In a breakthrough development, world’s first solar-powered sails will be subject to testing in 2019. EnergySails, as the technology is called would allow ships to utilize solar as well as wind energy simultaneously. The sails have been developed by Eco Marine Power (EMP) – a Japanese company in the renewable energy sector, as part of a larger initiative. EMP has collaborated with other businesses and a Japanese shipping company to deploy the technology on bulk carrier ships.
EnergySails is said to be an advanced integrated framework of rigid sails, energy storage modules, marine-grade solar panels, and marine computers. As stated by EMP, the technology will allow ships to harness solar and wind energy in a bid to utilize renewable energy. EnergySails will allow ships to trap and store energy even when docked. The sails manufactured of steel or carbon fiber can also be used during inclement weather.
Feasibility Testing of New Sails Currently Underway
At present, EMP is carrying out feasibility tests on several ships owned by the shipping company that it is partnering with. The testing phase will help to estimate the propulsion achieved by EnergySails, and also help to comprehend the amount of solar power received by on-board panels during each individual ship route. Following testing, one vessel from the fleet will be put on trial for 12 to 18 months. The chosen ship will be equipped with EnergySails along with solar panels on deck and the required hardware to regulate and control each part of the system.
Eco Marine Power claims the primary initiative under which EnergySails has been developed can help lower fuel consumption and curb carbon dioxide emissions.