Completed in late 2008, the M/V Auriga Leader is the world’s first cargo ship to be partially propelled by solar power. The 656-foot, 60,000-ton car carrier will initially transport vehicles being sent for sale overseas by Japan’s top automaker, Toyota Motor Corp, and harness the energy of the sun in order to reduce fuel costs and cut carbon emissions.
Currenlty docked at the Port of Long Beach, officials from the port, Toyota and NYK Line are allowing visitors to come aboard and view the 328 solar panels on the M/V Auriga Leader as part of a demonstration project to help raise awareness about reducing diesel emissions from large ships.
The vessel, developed by Nippon Yusen K.K. and Nippon Oil Corp., is capable of generating 10% of the energy used while the ship is docked with its 328 solar panels on the top deck. Nippon Yusen has set a goal of halving its fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 2010.
The panels themselves are not attached to the ship directly, but are rather installed on the ship’s car-carrier, which is capable of carrying 6,400 automobiles, and then connected to the onboard 440 volt electrical network.
The companies hope having the panels on the carrier will protect them from the stresses of the ship’s environment, including salt-water damage, wind pressure, and vibrations.