Solar Sailor

Solar Sailor


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Solar Sailor of Australia is building large ferries powered by photovoltaics and rigid sails. The position of the sails is chosen both to gain power from the wind but also to orient the solar panels on them for maximum power.

One of the interesting things about Solar Sailor is that ferries usually operate inshore. Emissions from Sydney's ferry fleet (Solar Sailor operates a 100-passenger charter vessel on the city's harbour) pump up national carbon dioxide totals, which Australia must reduce as a Kyoto Protocol signatory.

Besides curbing emissions, hybrid ferries can help kickstart the adoption of clean tech by the shipping world.

As Sydney contemplates buying a new ferry fleet - about 40 vessels - Dane argues his technology would world well on the inner harbour runs, while also shaving fuel costs and reducing the systems's carbon footprint.

"I've just been to a ferry conference in Hong Kong," he says. "Everyone was saying, 'Of course, we can go back to wind power. And use solar.' With modern materials and technology, you don't need a crew to set the sails. Just push a button and let a computer do it. It's a new age."

With boats of passenger capacity of 14 to 250 and up, Solar Sailor is leading the way in new solar/wind powered vessels. These boats reduce or eliminate both fuel use and pollution, resulting in lower operating cost.

Sails are computer controlled, and can be actuated with the push of a button. Recreational models, both yachts and houseboats, complement the ferries and cargo vessels. The one shown in pictures operates in Sydney harbor, and Solar Sailor has contracts for boats in Hong Kong and elsewhere.