Lower emissions, lower fuel costs - a cleaner future for passenger ferries
Solar, solar marine hybrid and solar electric commuter ferry concepts vary widely. In some cases a solar ferry could simply include just a few solar panels mounted on a vessel which provide relatively little power, or it could be a small commuter ferry where solar energy is the primary source of power.
Of course the reality is that solar panels or modules don't collect energy at night and also their performance on cloudy days is adversely impacted, so a solar-electric ferry propulsion system designs usually include a backup or alternative source of power. Typically this consists of a number of batteries which store excess energy collected during the day or obtained via shore power plus a back-up generator which is used to recharge the batteries as needed.
There are also solar ferry designs that incorporate hybrid marine power (HMP) and this may include a traditional main engine(s) and a solar-electric propulsion system which is used when the vessel is operating at lower speeds. Vessels that utilize solar power not only reduce fossil fuel consumption but they can also operate more quietly and emit far further pollutants into the air than vessels that use traditional diesel engine based propulsion systems.
A practical design approach
In many cases existing solar ferries cost significantly more to build than conventionally powered vessels and although these costs may be recoverable over time via fuel savings, this initial financial burden is of major concern to ferry owners and operators.
A working ferry also needs to be easy to maintain, reliable and uncomplicated for the crew to operate.
At Eco Marine Power (EMP) we are working to develop a number of solar-hybrid marine power solutions which will lead to a new generation of eco-friendly ferries, work boats and other vessels that these considerations into account.
Our design approach takes into account the entire life-cycle of a vessel including environmental concerns such as the energy required to produce the solar panels and the disposal of the ferry or vessel at the end of its useful life.
EMP itself does not manufacture ships or vessels, instead we aim to work with shipyards and boat-builders that share our vision and want to make shipping more environmentally friendly.
Our design concepts are advanced and incorporate the latest technology while at the same time being practical and simple as possible. The solar-electric ferry designs we are currently developing include a 100-150 solar-electric passenger eco-ferry (Medaka) and a larger 200-250 passenger solar electric hybrid marine propulsion ferry (Tonbo) as shown on the right. Both these vessels will be fitted with a solar panel array that has been designed by EMP.
They will also be fitted with the Aquarius MAS performance monitoring, control & data logging system which has been jointly developed by EMP & KEI System.
We are currently looking to incorporate rigid sail & wind power solutions into our solar ferry & vessel design concepts in cases where this is practical and cost effective. At this stage this mainly involves developing variations of our EnergySail & Aquarius MRE System technologies but we are also looking at a range of other technologues as well including fuel cells.
Please Note: Aquarius MRE System, Aquarius MAS and EnergySail are trademarks of Eco Marine Power.