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.

7 Replies to “Solar-Powered Ferries”

  1. Now that’s more like it. That boat looks like the sort of thing that springs to my mind when I think about clean energy and a high tech future. It gets full points for both energy production and for style.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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