Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Story

Can commercial ships feature “solar sailors?”

An Australian manufacturer of solar panels for maritime vessels is hoping to move up in size from hybrid ferries in Hong Kong to a bulk carrier.

The company, Solar Sailor, has outfitted ferries that transit between Hong Kong and outer islands with hybrid technology similar to the automobile counterparts, reportedly saving up to 17 percent on fuel bills.

The Sydney-based firm says it will soon announce a contract with an Australian mining company to outfit a new iron ore bulk ship that will carry raw materials to China with a 130-foot-tall solar sail.

Robert Dane, Solar Sail’s founder, told the BBC News, that the device would be like a “giant windmill blade” covered in solar panels that can be folded down when the vessel is docked.

Dane said he estimates the fuel savings for the giant sail would be in the 20 to 40 percent range, or over $3 million per year if traveling at an average of 16 knots.

The solar system for a commercial ship like the bulker would be approximately $6 million “and therefore the return of investment would be a couple of years at the current oil price," Dane said.

“It's not a matter of if we're going to do it, it's a matter of how - right now we are working out the details," he said.

For the full BBC story:



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