Solar Panel Sails to Propel Future Freighters?
When it comes to emissions and pollution, a lot of focus is on cars. However, shipping is a huge contributor to global emissions output, and some innovative solutions have surfaced as a means for cleaning up. Eco Marine Power is developing a solar panel that doubles as a ship sail. Two birds, one stone?
The panels would be placed on the deck of a ship and controlled by an advanced computer system that could turn and direct them towards the sun, the wind, or both, depending on circumstances. Such a system could not directly power a ship per se, but could provide auxiliary power that would lessen the demand on the heavy oil-burning engines. Toyota has already experimented with solar panels on its container ships, with limited success. Adding the ability to catch the sun and wind energy could make it more worthwhile.
For now, the system is being designed as a retrofit for existing ships, and will have to be easily stowed during bad weather. In the future though, more advance systems could supply a large portion of the power freighters need. A solar-powered ship has already proven that it can traverse the world’s oceans relying only on the sun. Not quite the same solar sails that NASA is working on, but potentially far more beneficial. When combined with other ideas like the SkySail and more aerodynamic shapes, and large container ships may soon be entering a cleaner, greener era.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.