Aquarius MRE System and EnergySail - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). For general questions about Eco Marine Power please see our Company Frequently Asked Questions page.
For further information about the Aquarius MRE System please see the Aquarius Wind, Solar Marine Power System webpage.
What is the Aquarius MRE System?
The Aquarius MRE System (MRE - Marine Renewable Energy) is an advanced integrated system of rigid but movable sails, computer systems, renewable energy devices & energy storage modules that will allow ships to tap into renewable energy at sea by harnessing the power provided by the wind and sun. The rigid sails are based on the EnergySail technology developed by EMP.
How much will the system reduce a ships fuel consumption?
We estimate that on an annual basis the system will reduce fuel consumption on a large ocean going ships of between 10% -20%. This is a conservative estimate which takes into account days when weather conditions are not favourable for using the system or when the ship is not at sea. On smaller and/or specialised vessels the fuel savings and emission reductions could be significantly higher.
Is the Aquarius MRE System just for large ships?
Although the system is being initially designed for large ships, much of the technology being developed will also be suitable for smaller vessels such as coastal freighters, passenger ferries and tourist boats. A study is also being conducted to determine if it would be feasible to use the system on naval and government vessels such as patrol ships.
Is wind power really a viable option on-board large modern ships?
Wind power was used for many centuries to move ships across the oceans but the arrival of the steamship heralded the end of the golden age of the sailing ship. In the 1970's and 1980's ships in Japan were fitted with rigid sails these proved that the use of rigid sails reduced fuel consumption. You can read more about this topic in Wind and Solar Power for Ships.
Do the rigid sails used by the Aquarius MRE System use wind energy and collect solar energy as well?
The rigid sail or EnergySail designed by Eco Marine Power will help move a ship by using the available wind plus they may collect solar energy during the day if solar panels are fitted. The EnergySail is moved automatically by the control system to best suit the prevailing weather conditions. Please see our EnergySail webpage for more information about this innovative device.
What is a rigid sail? Does it mean the sail does not move?
A rigid sail is simply a sail that is not made entirely from a flexible material like cloth. A rigid sail for example could be made out of marine grade aluminium or a carbon fibre composite material. The EnergySail used by the Aquarius MRE System can be moved to best use the available wind or solar energy. They can also be lowered when a ship is loading/unloading or during storms.
Can the energy collected from the solar panels be stored in batteries?
Yes. The batteries when charged can then be used to power the ship’s operational equipment or alternatively, be used as a power source when at harbour or at anchor. The batteries or energy storage modules can also be used to store energy from other sources such as the ship's generators.
Why should shipping companies use wind and solar power?
Firstly wind and solar power used onboard ships reduces the use of fossil fuels and this results in less air pollution less & greenhouse gas emissions. So simply put, wind and solar power are better for the environment compared to burning oil, diesel fuel or LNG etc. Secondly less fuel used means reduced operating costs for the owner or operator of the ship. There are also other benefits which we would be pleased to explain these in more detail to ship builders, designers, owners and operators.
Why not just put very big sails on a ship?
Big sails on a ship can cause big problems just as they did during the age of the sailing ship. The aim of the Aquarius MRE System is not only to use wind power on a ship, but also to do it in such a way so that the safety of the crew and vessel are not compromised. In addition the system brings in other technologies such as energy storage, wind power devices & solar modules.
Large flexible sails are suitable for certain types of vessels but our research indicates they are not ideal for large ships such as oil tankers and bulkers.
The EnergySail used by the Aquarius MRE System has been designed so that it is suitable for a wide range of ships from passenger ferries to very large oil tankers and ore carrying ships.
I have seen smaller vessels with rigid sails, why not just put bigger variations of these on a ship?
Ocean going ships are designed differently than those that operate in sheltered waters such as bays, harbours or rivers therefore a wind and solar power solution for these vessels must be designed to take that into account. Rigid wing sails for example work well on small yachts but our research has shown that they are not ideally suited for large ocean going ships.
The sails do not look that big, will it really work?
An EnergySail array is not intended to power the ship alone. On a large ship the main engines will still be needed but the Aquarius MRE System will provide an additional source or power and propulsion to help reduce fuel consumption and airborne emissions including partiiculate matter. The basic technology behind the rigid sail concept was tested & proven on a number of ocean going vessel built in Japan during the 1970’s & 1980’s.
Do the sails move?
Yes, they will move to best suit the prevailing weather conditions. They can also be lowered during storms or when cargo is being loaded/unloaded.
Is there only one type of EnergySail?
No, there are several variations of the EnergySail in terms of size, shape and features.
When will the system be ready?
The first sub-system, the Aquarius Management & Automation System (MAS) is now available and the EnergySail has passed lab tests. Sea trials for the entire system are due to start during 2014 with commercial release due in 2015/2016.
Aquarius MRE System, AquariusUSV & EnergySail are trademarks of Eco Marine Power Co. Ltd.