The race to go green is on in the shipping industry. Not only is the price of oil soaring, but more and more stress is being put on the shipping industry to decrease its carbon emissions and its harmful affects on the global environment. This has led shipping companies to turn to sources of a renewable energy to power their vessels.
Two Japanese companies have taken the initiative to tackle this important issue saying that they plan to begin work on the first ships to have propulsion engines partially powered by solar energy and they could be ready as soon as 2010. According to an article in Reuters:
Japan’s biggest shipping line Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corp said solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity would be placed on top of a 60,000 tonne car carrier to be used by Toyota Motor Corp.
The solar panels would help conserve up to 6.5 percent of fuel oil used in powering diesel engines that generate electricity at any given moment.
Solar panels for an average home usually generate 3.5 kilowatts of electricity.
The system is expected to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1-2 percent, or about 20 tonnes per year, said Hideyuki Dohi, general manager at Nippon Oil’s energy system development department.
Nippon Yusen will invest about 150 million yen ($1.4 million) in the solar panel system to be designed by Nippon Oil.
Solar panels capable of generating several kilowatts of electricity have been used on large vessels before but their use has been limited to power for the crew’s living quarters.
While this system would have to be implemented on a large scale to have any significant impact on emissions from the industry as a whole, it is a step in the right direction and could potentially persuade other companies to follow.
Check out gCaptain’s post on Skysails and more information on other green ship designs HERE.