The Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD) has commissioned a solar-powered boat that will soon be seen sailing on Kochi’s backwater country. The ferry, which will have a life-cycle of twenty years, has been designed and built by NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats.Come July, the boats will ferry passengers on the Vaikkom-Thavanakkadavu route that runs for a stretch of 2.5 km.The solar boat – which measures 20-metres in length and 7-metres in width – will run at a maximum cruising speed of 7.5 knots. And unlike the diesel-run ferries, these boats will make zero noise and bring a positive change in the environment. The idea to opt for this alternative struck the Kerala government in 2013 when it came across a study about ferries that used renewable sources of energy, reportsThe Better India. After deciding to explore the option, the contract was finally given to Navalt, which is a collaborative effort between Indian firm Navgathi, and French company, AltEn.Sandith Thandasherry, CEO of NavAlt said, “After many experiments, we realised that application of renewable energy in marine passenger transportation would be the best. We also realised that ferries were the way to go.”The boat was entirely assembled in NavAlt’s Kochi’s yard after the main propulsion package was shipped from France.”Two years ago, we started with the initial discussions and the designs. We spent about a year fine-tuning it. And then the construction of the boat started a year ago,” added Sandith. He is now hopeful that all future boats will be constructed within a span of six months.