Solar sailing is, basically, a new way of travelling through the water, in a ship powered by wind and sunlight, depending on weather conditions. The sail is controlled by software and it’s operated automatically, tracking the sun for optimal solar and the wind for optimal sail power. Electricity created by the solar panels and stored in a battery powers the engine while the ships come in and out of the harbour. Once out in the open ocean and when more speed is needed, the diesel kicks in.
SolarSailor is a public unlisted company with offices in Australia, China and Hong Kong, which supplies patented SolarSail and Hybrid Marine technology, with applications on tankers, commercial ferries, private yachts and unmanned coast guard drones.
Robert Dane, Solar Sailor’s founder, is enthusiastic about a trial of a 130-foot sail on the carrier ship of a mining company shipping to China. He believes that this new revolutionary technology, that can be used on all types of vessels, offers ship owners and sailors great fuel savings (between 5% and 100% fuel saving depending on conditions and application). “I think in 50 to 100 years, all ships will have solar sails”, he says. “It just makes so much sense. You’re out there on the water and there’s so much light bouncing around and there’s a lot more energy in the wind than in the sun.” In addition, solar sailing would also refresh and renovate the shipping industry, which it is said, emits more greenhouse gases than commercial aviation.
Have a look at this video. Do you think photovoltaic solar panels powered ships will work in the future?