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September 24, 2017

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Largest solar-powered tourist boats in Asia are unveiled in Kaohsiung

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan -- Kaohsiung City has expanded its fleet of Asia's largest solar-powered sightseeing boats as part of its effort to build a low-carbon city and help promote tourism, a government official said.

The city government earmarked NT$35 million (US$1.1 million) last year for five solar-powered boats to partiallyreplace15 diesel-powered boats currently offering cruises down the city's Love River.

A first prototype was unveiled on Feb. 9 this year and the five new boats entered into service Monday. Wang Kuo-tsai, the director of the city's Bureau of Transportation, hopes to obtain funding for another 10 vessels next year that he hopes will be introduced by 2012.

Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu said at Monday's launch ceremony that the first vessel has been warmly received by tourists, and she was expecting more.

"We hope the new boats will advance the city's development and offer visitors a superior and eco friendly service," she said.

Seating 36 passengers and able to reach a maximum speed of nine knots, the boats are the biggest solar-powered vessels by capacity in Asia and can also transport more than the 20 people transported by the existing diesel powered boats.

They are fueled by 18 solar power panels supplying power to two sets of 12 lithium batteries per boat, a system that will save energy costs, cut carbon emissions and not release any pollutants that are harmful to the river, Wang said.

The batteries will be charged separately when the solar panels cannot provide enough power.

According to Wang, although each boat costs NT$7.46 million, the city government will not raise fares for the river cruises. At present, the full and discount fares are NT$50 and NT$25 for city residents and NT$80 and NT$40 for non-residents.

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