The 100-seater, eco-tourism ferry, the Sydney Solar Sailor was designed and built as a commercial demonstration of the ‘solar sail’ and ‘hybrid marine power’ technologies. The ferry was first showcased at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The ferry can cruise on wind energy, solar energy, electrical battery, or diesel engine, or any combination of them all. The Sydney Solar Sailor has been operating successfully for more than 3 years in a commercially tough market. Presently with technology development, next version of the ferry, a 149-passenger 20-knot version is expected to be launched.
The use of solar and wind energy to propel ships, can reduce ship’s fuel costs by up to 90 percent and are environmentally friendly with zero emissions. The new technology aims to cater for a wide range of cruise ships to 500,000-tonne water transport tankers and small unmanned military vessels.
Solar Sailor is fitted with eight wings which are moved automatically by a sophisticated computer system , tracking the sun for optimal solar collection and the wind for optimal sail power. The computer system senses the wind force and solar power and assesses when the wing sail should be unfolded and retracted, also monitors the charging of the batteries and assesses the most efficient combination of energy use. The wings are engineered to handle 40knots of wind with 300% margin of safety when upright which means about 56 knots.
With this proven technology, more Harbourcrafts are expected to follow Solar Sailor.
Recently, there are news reports that ISRO and Tata Motors of India are working together to bring out environment-friendly, hydrogen-driven automobiles using the newly tested cryogenic engine technology. This technology may add up for marine applications also.
Some more photographs of Solar Sailor:
Solar Sailor back view from the air
Boarding Solar Sailor at jetty
Solar Sailor back diagonal view
Solar Sailor moored at Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour
View a video of Solar Sailor in action:
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