In order to develop and expand the commercial capacity of the company, as well as its greater proximity to the public, Sun Concept established a cooperation protocol with the Siroco Group (, given the recognition that exists around its reputation obtained over the years of working in navigation with internationally recognised professionalism and credibility. Siroco Equipment, Siroco Yacht Brokers, Sea Way and Sea Sky – Portugal Charter are part of the Group, providing a range of companies that range from the area of representation of the brand Sun Concept and supplying materials and ship building equipment to maritime-tourism operation, from the regions of Lisbon and Porto.

The partnership of Sun Concept – Siroco is an example of the symbiosis model that we want to develop, a sharing of experiences, knowledge and risks that, once combined, generate very positive synergies for both the customers that seek electro-solar vessels and for the fans of more sustainable alternative experiences in terms of recreation and leisure.

Between October and November 2016, Siroco was one of the parties involved in the communications project #TheSunnySideofLife based on the presentation of the entrepreneurial project of Sun Concept and the models SunSailer 7.0, where we were also able to take our fans and customers to try the solar boat SunSailer MT at Foz do Douro, from the Douro marina in Gaia and in the Tejo river, to gaze at Lisbon between Alcântara and Terreiro do Paço.

Courtesy of Siroco, via SeaWay, it is also possible to schedule at any time a visit to get a closer look at the SunSailer MT that will be available in Lisbon at the Doca do Espanhol in Alcântara.

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Sun Concept, Solar Boat Builders is an electro-solar ship building company. The concern with the environment and the promotion of sustainable life styles are the main objectives with which INATEL identifies.

The presentation of the most recent boat took place at INATEL Foz do Arelho and we displayed everything, including the trip.


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Navigating, navigating and spending nothing, wasting nothing, saving everything: fuel, environment, natural resources, communities. This is how the Sun Concept project, that develops solar boats for recreation, maritime-tourism activities and fishing, launched into the murky waters of the national market, aligning technological innovation, industrial design and sustainability. VER embarked on a voyage to present the SunSailer, at Óbidos Lagoon. Welcome aboard a reporting that revels the light of the simplest ideas, those that shine on people and on the planet. Because when the sun rises, it is for everyone, and we can all enjoy it.

With regard to the cliché that a boat owner has two joys in life – when he buys the boat and when he sells it – the tradition is not what it once was. If the acquisition, whether for professional purposes or for recreation, involved up to now a financial and logistical effort so great that it implied, in itself, a heavy burden, today there is an alternative to conventional vessels which, at least with regard to consumption and maintenance, shows itself to be very light.

Since March 2016, there has been a national project that materialised on boats moved by solar energy, planned from the ground up to be cost-effective, silent and ecological, and that are the result of the synergy between technological innovation, industrial design and sustainability.

The idea was born of a “bar conversation that became a boat conversation”, between a biologist, an accountant and a ship builder, and quickly the intention to commit to serial production of a boat that would not fill Ria Formosa with noise and pollution gained scale at the planning level, and wit recourse the shared capita l of the nuclear founder, resulted in the constitution (in May) and development of the Sun Concept company, that invested, “to date, close to half a million euros”, as stated to VER by its Director of Strategy and Sustainability, Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira.

Today the first electro-solar vessel company in Portugal and one of the first in the world, to exchange the prototype for the sales phase, has on the market three models of the SunSailer 7.0 line – for recreation (S), maritime.tourism activities (MT) and fishing (PRO) – which, with seven metres of length, two 6 horsepower electrical engines supplied by a bank of four batteries that are charged with six photo-voltaic panels (or five in the case of the PRO version) installed on the vessel itself, and a patented hull with 40cm draught designed to not leave a backwash (and thus, not agitate the waters, respecting the ecosystems), are designed for use in protected coastal areas and lagoon and riverside areas, such as inlets, estuaries, rivers and lagoons.

By 2018 the minimum objective is to have at least twenty SunSailers on the market.

Achieving a cruising speed of five knots and a maximum of 7 knots (approximately from 10 to 13 km/hr.), these boats have an autonomy without sun of six to eight hours, and infinite in the presence of the sun’s rays, even in fog, since “that more they go the less they spend” affirms Manuel Brito, CEO and main investor.

And this is the great asset of SunSailer: it does not need fuel. With a zero consumption level, that translates into zero emissions of greenhouse gases, a 95% reduction in noise levels and 80% less expensive maintenance than a conventional boat (since it also does not need oil, filters or spark plugs), the solar boat designed by the Olhão company saves 15 to 20 thousand euros per year, compared with a maritime tourist activity that navigates 500 to 600 hours per year, with a traditional 50 horsepower engine.

The prices for identical vessels with internal combustion engines vary between 24,600 euros (plus VAT), for the version designed for fishermen, shellfish gatherers and nurserymen, with space for six passengers, those for 32,400 euros (plus VAT) for the recreational version, for 8 passengers, and those for 37,700 euros (plus VAT) for the boat with the largest capacity (12 passengers), directed at tourism operators that work in calm or protected waters, the most promising target of the visionary project.

It’s a boat that builds bridges

The small town of Foz do Arelho, in the municipality of Oeste das Caldas da Rainha, awoke to bright sunshine, surprising those used to its unstable micro-climate, on the morning of 08 October, the day of presentation of the Sun Concept project. Since the day before, the SunSailer MT waited, at the entrance to the Inatel Foundation Hotel, for the sun’s rays to shine on the beautiful Óbidos Lagoon, where it provided various trips throughout the afternoon.

Before an audience of many dozens of participants, among local government, representatives of environmental association and the energy sector, potential tourism investors and users of the services of these boats as well as come curious onlookers, Nuno Gaspar de Oliveira, Manuel Costa Braz, Director and João Bastos, Sales Director of Sun Concept, inspire those present with the dynamism and cohesion of the team that set out on this voyage “out of devotion” that want to navigate very far, beyond the Portuguese coast, already counting for this purpose with ten workers dedicated to the development and production of the vessels from the Olhão shipyard.

Proud of the national seal of approval of the most sustainable boat in Portugal, Manuel Costa told the audience that Sun Concept has in the pipeline the construction of “a shipyard next to Ria Formosa that is totally self-sustainable”, that uses “ecological energy” (wind or solar) exclusively, and that allows making the parking of boats acquired from the company profitable, whenever they are connected to the current, making use of the electrical energy generated for the consumption of the shipyard and thus reducing the logistical costs of the owners.

The construction of an ecological shipyard at Ria Formosa could be the epicentre of a new sustainable hub for sustainable regional development

Emphasising as well the sustainability of the project, João Bastos explained how the SunSailer “is able to navigate with a minimal water line” (the references 40 cm), that allows “the hull to move without leaving a wake” (backwash), thus protecting the vulnerable ecosystems of the lagoon and riverside areas and radically diminishing disturbance to other vessels, as well as swimmers. And he depicted how this solar boat is so silent that everyone who embarked on it (including the company’s team itself, in the test phase, asked is the boat was already operating.

Counting on the Siroco Group as a business partner, the project of the Algarve company has at this time boats “ideal for tourism, in a more entrepreneurial perspective, or for leisure, if we are also thinking about personal use”. However, these same boats, especially the SunSailer MT, with its room for 12 passengers, are also ideal for taxi-type transport services, to make the connection between coastal communities or provide social services, for instance, supporting children, young people and the elderly, either as a means of transport or for educational, environmental or cultural animation activities.

As explained to VER by the Director of Strategy and Sustainability of Sun Concept, “this is a boat that builds bridges, takes people cruising along the banks at zero cost”. Both in other parts of the city, like Vila do Conde or Aveiro, and in the regions of neighbouring countries such as Alto Minho and Galicia, or along the banks of the international Guadiana river, “among many other opportunities to establish solar bridges between sites and people”.

But even at the tourism level, “something we have noticed is that many hotel units or small rural tourism clusters have little to offer in terms of their own activities and, either in direct use (purchasing the boat) or in indirect use (purchasing the services of the boat owner) they can benefit greatly from having a complementary leisure activity, recreation, or observation of wildlife”, concluded Nuno Oliveira.

Also, in terms of activities connected to fishing and natural resources, the mentors of SunSailer hope that these boats, “in a more simplified and better adapted form”, can serve for fishermen from sheltered waters, shellfish gatherers, algae pickers, fish farmers and for activities linked to protecting nature, such as vigilance of natural areas, monitoring biodiversity, animal rescues, control of exotic plants and research, “among so many other purposes such as those you can imagine”. Indeed, here as well, when the sun rises it is for everyone.


But how could the maritime-tourism companies of the communities located in areas of calm or protected waters be made aware of the sustainability of this project, and from what incentives could these small local businesses benefit in the context of this investment?

The acquisition of a SunSailer “is not so different” for the acquisition of another vessel for the same purposes, in terms of socio-economic activity, explains Nuno Oliveira. After all, “all boats cost money, but while some cost even more money when they are moving, ours saves in an unbelievable manner, allowing large sums corresponding to the costs avoided with fuel and taxes to be set aside for the well-being of the persons and families” that invested in the project And we have not even spoken of “the amount of additional work days you can have in the field of tourism and leisure”. For instance, a couple that want to go on a maritime-tourist trip in the low season often see their right denied for a simple reason: they “don’t pay” the fuel. the service doesn’t “pay” the fuel. With no fuel to pay, the operator can go out as often as he wants or needs to, even if he is the only passenger, he clarifies.

Sun Concept supports the Técnico Solar Boat students, who are building a solar racing boat.

For the Sustainability specialist, the growth of support for regional development, an economy with low carbon and smooth/electrical mobility “will be very beneficial”, by allowing interested parties to submit financial support projects, “with even more ambitious objectives than if they had purchased boats with their own funds, thus benefiting from the stimuli of a greener economy”.

Even without these incentives (yet), Sun Concept has already sold three vessels – tow for Ria Formosa and two for the Douro – and is expected to sign two new contracts, in the Algarve and in the Middle Tagus region, and is studying “over a dozen requests for information”.

By the end of the year it is expected that at least another five vessels will be on order to begin delivery starting in March and April, “the time of year when boats start selling”, adds Nuno Oliveira. This is “a very seasonal product, it can be negotiated at any time of the year” and, naturally, most sales are in the Spring, in anticipation of the main use, during the Summer. In any event, and until 2018, “our minimal objective is to have twenty SunSailers on the market… and then some”, he predicts.

Moreover, the company has had, since its start-up, plans to develop another type of solar vessels such as 12 or 18 metre catamarans, able to leave for the open sea and carry 30 or 40 persons, either to watch dolphins and whales or to reach other destination. And, as the year went on, it developed “a very close relationship” with the team from the Técnico Solar Boat, a group of students who are building a solar racing boat for the Monaco Solar1 Race, among other competitions: “we are sponsors of this multi-disciplinary team and, in exchange, we have obtained great support in terms of notes and ideas for developing new vessels. This is a growing partnership and people will be talking about it”.

In this nautical sector that are often requests for special projects, such one customer “who wanted a river boat to take 60 people throughout Europe… or outside of Europe. Anything can happen”, says, enthusiastically, the person responsible for the strategy of the company for building electro-solar vessels.

As for the perspectives of internationalising the project, in a first phase (two years) Sun Concept wants to explore to the maximum the national market and begin expansion into Spain, “since it is right next door and since it has a territory with very similar valences”. At the same time, the area of the European Union, including countries to the North and expansion to the East, “seems like an immense market that will require us to fine tune models and strategies but that, in the medium and long term, will prove to be fundamental for our sustainable growth”.

What he does not rule out is that it is “we could eagerly imagine our boats in Guanabara bay, in lake Titicaca, coming down the Nile, linking the Thai islands in the thousand Finish lakes, in the Danube delta, in the Mekong estuary… the world is a big place and the sun is the greatest common denominator of all”, concludes Nuno Oliveira.

Over here, the medium-term dream is the launching of the Ria Formosa shipyard, “since only with a suitable shipyard can we create new models and the capacity of response to growth and diversification”. This is “an ambitious project” that rests on three premises: the restoration of urbanised and degraded areas; construction with sustainable materials and construction and, “of course”, energy independence. “We still don’t have a lot to show, but we can add that it will be a small revolution in terms of marine logistics, and could be the epicentre of a new hub for sustainable regional development”.

In light of so many and such good expectations, the best is to wait and ‘sea’, the person responsible jokes. Until then, there will be many trips to show off this solar boat, under the motto “Can a solar boat change the concept of tourism?“. The next one will take place on 15 October, in Vila Nova de Cerveira.

We are the last ones to say good-bye to the sun

Nuno Gaspar Oliveira is not only the Director of Strategy and Sustainability at Sun Concept, he is also a specialist ion issues of sustainability, biology, a biologist, consultant and responsible for strategic management of services in the areas of ecology and the ecosystem. Above all, he is an inveterate lover of life, nature and the planet. Aside from the launching of the new solar boat already navigating in Portugal, VER proposed to them, from its own convictions, four basic issues, bottomless with regard to future navigation of this “global home” that is the earth.

What real opportunities, that the sustainability level, could “an economy of ecosystems” create?

A natural ecosystem is a perfect system, it generates value while it operates, debugs errors, resolves problems, creates opportunities, and innovates forms and functions. This is our greatest inspiration, mimicking what nature does with wisdom and millions of years of experience.

Imagine a solar boat that inspires change and, soon, an entire region is gradually replacing its conventional means of transport with more sustainable alternatives. All of the impacts that existed in terms of pollution, noise, stress, economic costs with energy dependence, among other societal costs, will disappear and be replaced with objects of a more harmonious form and function, framed better with their surroundings and generating social and environmental well-being, while at the same time recovering the balance in the local economic fabric. This is indeed a boat designed to build bridges that are not always physical.

How can “half a dozen small companies transform global challenges”, some “with absolutely alarming consequences”?

The old slogan “think globally – act locally” is still perfectly ready for use, it can even be said that it has an infinite expiration date. We all have the opportunity to be proactive in the direction of a better future and, for this to happen, we need to estimate and nurture today, perhaps that is why we call it a “present”. Small things that generate great waves, they call it the butterfly effect or a sort of cosmic billiards. We believe that when good things are done, good things happen.

Climate changes, ecological degradation, trash, consumerism, the petroleum paradigm, all of these affect us and there should inspire us to seek stimuli and alliances to create possible solutions and are within our reach. We are building solar boats, how about you?

How can the solar energy market contribute now, at the global level, to the new energy paradigm? How is Portugal situated in this sector, compared with Europe and the rest of the world?

Since we are the most Westerly country in Europe, we are the last to say good-bye to the sun every day. And when we look at those rays after sunset lighting up the clouds with every colour imaginable, we are in awe. What a beautiful spectacle… and its free! The sun is like that, generous and trustworthy, and yet we still grasp a finite resource that, while generating enormous growth and well-being during the last 150 years, also brought to the surface the worst there is in greed and the struggle for power.

The absolute democratisation brought by sun, winds, waves and tides, the heat of the earth, will overthrow empires but will allow the flourishing of many communities and regions that are under the obscurantism of the cult of petroleum and the moves in the great world chess game. I don’t feel like speaking in numbers, of what we are and of what others are doing. I would rather talk about the absurdity that we are still doing so little and how much remains to be done.

Through social and environmental projects such as SunSailer, what contribution can be made by tourism – with enormous growth potential – to future sustainable development?

“Nosce Te Ipsum“, the ancient Greeks said. Know yourself, and in others we will know ao much about ourselves. In other landscapes, in other contexts, in other cultures, always under the same sun. Tourism is developing far beyond beach-and -drinks or collecting stamps on the passport.

Millions of people travel every year to do “voluntourism”, a sort of hybridisation between travelling and helping others. Millions of families use their holidays to take their children and adolescents to learn about many of the historical locations where the various civilisations grew and perished with the objective of teaching them about the fragile and magnificent human condition. Millions of seniors (who do not accept being called elderly) are looking for experiences that realise dreams that were put on hold and vibrate with the new offers of a tourism that is more ecological and responsible to society and the environment.

Millions of people operate small businesses or manage organisations that depend on the economic flows from tourism to create better conditions for their families and communities. The solar boat is one of many options to help make all this possible, in a new human ecosystem, somewhere between mother earth and the sun that keeps us spinning in a minuscule little corner of an immense universe.


by Gabriela Costa

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Since July 2015 Sun Concept has been one of the main sponsors of the TSB – Técnico Solar Boat project, a project developed by the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) by a nucleus of architecture and naval engineering students, among other specialities, with the objective of building a racing vessel moved by solar energy with the objective of taking part in the Solar 1 Monte Carlo Cup 2017, in Monaco, and the Dutch Solar Challenge 2018, in the Netherlands.

In addition to the direct sponsorship through providing an electric Torqueedo engine and solar panels, Sun Concept has been developing a close relationship with this innovative group in the sense of exchanging knowledge about the development of new models of electro-solar vessels.


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Portuguese project by an Algarve company presents in Foz do Arelho and in Vila Nova de Cerveira a silent boat that does not pollute the water and leaves almost no wake.

A solar boat does not need fuel, and you don’t have to change the oil, the filters or the spark plugs. It also does not pollute the waters and is so silent that one must strain the ear to hear the light humming provoked by its two electric motors.

This was the sensation felt yesterday by the invited guests who took a trip in the Óbidos Lagoon in one of the boats made by Sun Concept boats, the first Portuguese company to produce solar boats and one of the first at the world level that has already passed the prototype level and and has models in its portfolio for sale.

The SunSailer has three versions for six, eight or ten passengers and works with two six horsepower electrical engines. These are supplies by four batteries that receive solar energy from six photovoltaic panels implanted on the vessel itself. It has a cruising speed of 5 knots (and maximum of 6.50 knots) and a hull with 40 centimetres that was especially designed (and patented) to not leave a wake (backwash). The objective is to not agitate the lagoons and other humid areas where respect for nature is fundamental.

The target market for these operators are the tourism operators who navigate in sensitive areas from the environmental standpoint, but Nuno Oliveira, of SunSailer, says these vessels can also be recreational boats for families or fishermen, shellfish gatherers and nurserymen.

Prices range from 24,600 to 32,400 euros, amounts that, he says, are in line with identical vessels that use fuel. “Our difficulty has been explaining the obvious: These boats do not spend money to navigate and maintenance itself is 80% less expensive than a conventional vessel”. Nuno Oliveira also noted how easy it is to reach the boat and put the key in the ignition without worrying about fuel.

The autonomy of the SunSailers may be infinite in the sun, but at night it can still navigate from six to nine hours at a speed of 5 knots. And even in fog, the solar rays supply the photovoltaic panels.

This project was born of a “bar conversation that became a boat conversation”, says the company’s Sales Director. A biologist, an accountant and a ship builder had the idea to build a solar boat and obtained the support of two entrepreneurs. Thus the Sun Concept company was born in Olhão in May 2015. The first prototype was launched in the water in March 2016. Since then, only three boats have been sold, but Nuno Oliveira says that in the next three months contracts should be signed for at least five more.

“Right now we’re in limbo, advertising, but we are certain there will be an explosion of orders”, he says. The company has 10 workers, but expects to create even more jobs. Being self-sustaining is one of its premises and therefore they intend to build an ecological shipyard at ria Formosa in some old warehouses that should be refurbished and the people who buy their boats can leave them parked. And since, even parked, they continue to produce electrical energy, the idea is to use it for the shipyards, which will pay the owners of the vessels for the electricity it consumed.

Besides the Portuguese market, which is rich in lagoon areas, the company intends, naturally, to go international. “It is possible to descend France between the canals to the Mediterranean. In Germany and the Netherlands there are canals all over. And Switzerland with all its lakes and the laws restricting polluting vessels, is also an incredible market ”, says the director of the company optimistically.

There are plenty of projects for the solar boats, including catamarans and cruise ships to, for instance, navigate in the Douro, up to the “craziest project of all, which is a car-boat-submarine totally moved by solar energy with which one can travel around the world”.

Nuno Oliveira says that in the future the photovoltaic panels could practically cover the entire surface of a vessel and that nothing is impossible to manufacture the most diverse types of silent ships and that “navigate at the speed of light [from the sun]”. And he concluded: “we have plenty of ideas and they can all be carried out, but the problem is that is easier to build a half million euro boat than one for 30 thousand euros and right now these are our target market”.

by Carlos Cipriano

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