A Low Emission Urban Water Transport Solution
Water transport is one of the most energy efficient public transport options available and is particularly suited for urban areas near bays, rivers and canals. However passenger and commuter ferries that use fossil fuels release harmful exhaust fumes (including particulate matter) that are hazardous for humans and are bad for the environment as well.
Over the last few years advancements in solar power, energy storage and marine electric propulsion technologies mean that there is now a viable eco-commuter ferry design that could replace the thousands of fossil fuelled ferries that operate across the world today.
Eco Marine Power (EMP) has been leading a project since 2010 to develop an eco-friendly solar-electric vessel specifically designed to operate as a low emission commuter ferry in urban areas.
The vessel design is known as the 'Medaka' and it will be one of the first of a new class of green passenger ferries which will incorporate a range of technologies to minimise fuel consumption and the emissions of noxious gases.
The Medaka is a eco-solar ferry meaning that it not only uses solar power as a source of renewable energy, but it will also incorporate a range of other features so that it is far more environmentally friendly than existing traditional ferry designs.
This eco-commuter ferry will use a simplified hybrid electric marine propulsion system that will be easy to maintain and make the overall vessel a cost effective alternative to vessels powered by diesel engines alone.
The solar modules mounted on the roof of the Medaka will use a marine solar panel concept developed by Eco Marine Power which will allow them to be raised or lowered. In normal operation the panels are at a slight angle and the overall vessel is low enough with the panels in this position to pass under low bridges or other obstacles. The solar panels can also be mounted in a fixed position in the roof of the vessel.
The basic philosophy behind the Medaka design is to make the vessel as environmentally friendly and flexible as possible. This means that the design can be altered so that it can fulfil a variety of roles such as an urban commuter ferry, a sight-seeing vessel or even to transport goods.
It can also be configured to use a variety of power sources (in addition to the solar panels) such as an LNG or biofuel generator. It will also be possible to rapidly recharge the on-board batteries when the vessel is alongside a pier or wharf.
A state-of-the art power management system will optimise battery performance and manage energy onboard the vessel to make best use of the available power generated on-board or gathered via the solar panels.
Several variations of the basic Medaka design are currently being studied by Eco Marine Power including a simplified version for use in emerging economies.