Solar-Powered Ferries

The Solar Sailor front diagonal view. Photo courtesy of Solar Sailor

The Solar Sailor front diagonal view. Photo courtesy of Solar Sailor

In November, Hong Kong’s harbor will see four solar-powered ferries.  On a sunny day, 3/4 of ferries’ energy needs will be met by solar power.

On a “typical sunny day” they will operate mainly using the sun’s energy, and also with liquid petroleum gas…The technology could cut in half carbon-dioxide output on a typical urban ferry route, Solar Sailor said on its Web site…The ferries were purchased by the Hong Kong Jockey Club as part of a 350 million Hong Kong dollar ($45 million) drive to make the city more environmentally conscious. The boats will be used for services between the club’s Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course and Sai Kung pier, it said in September on its Web site.  Solar Sailor’s so-called hybrid marine power, a sea-going equivalent to Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius car, according to Chief Executive Officer Robert Dane, can save ferry operators $6 million in fuel costs over a typical 15-year lifespan, the company says. Even so, recent development of the technology makes it hard to compete with the more established diesel motor industry, Dane said.

Make sure you checkout our previous post (Hybrid Ships…R/V Prius?) on hybrid ships that included Solar Sailor. Also make sure you check out Solar Sailor’s website for more photos and videos.

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

7 comments on “Solar-Powered Ferries
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  3. How fast does the ferry go? I understand that this will be the norm in the future, but this does not appear to be enough solar panels to get the ferry moving very quickly. I understand that it has a carbon-energy based backup system, but why would an owner want to use the petroleum when he can use the sun and save money?

    Also, I do not like the comparison to the Prius. The Jetta, which runs on diesel, gets better mileage for the emissions it produces.

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  5. I always thought ship engineering would be aiming to make a boat as light as possible. These panels seem superfluous weight to me.

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