Australian solar technology to power Chinese shipping

Solar Sailor.

Solar Sailor’s technology consists of wing-shaped solar panels fitted to vessels.

Australian-developed solar sail technology is set to drive Chinese shipping giant Cosco Group’s vessels with the energy sourced from the sun and the wind.

Sydney-based Solar Sailor has signed a contract with Cosco to retrofit a tanker and a bunker with its solar panels, in a move to achieve energy saving and emissions cut.

Under the contract Cosco will trial the technology on two vessels to examine the feasibility of further adoption on its fleets.

Solar Sailor chief executive Robert Dane said with the technology a Panamax-sized vessel travelling at 18 knots could source five per cent of its energy need from solar energy, and 20-40 per cent from wind.

The company’s technology consists of wing-shaped solar panels fitted to vessels, which are capable of generating solar energy as well as capturing wind power.

Dr Dane said an increasing number of businesses were looking at adopting clean technologies in order to curtail their fuel bills and carbon footprint.

Recently, the company has also secured major contracts with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and China’s solar cell producer Suntech to provide its technology on passenger vessels.

According to a report leaked last year that soiled shipping’s environmentally friendly image, the marine industry produces as much as 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, consuming at least two billion barrels of oil each year.

Dr Dane said the shipping industry should push harder to mitigate its environmental impact.

“If the shipping industry was a nation, it would be the seventh biggest emitter in the world,” he said.

“Currently there is a big push to clean up the marine industry.

“In an environmental viewpoint, it is inevitable that the industry has to go back to the wind and even the sun,” Dr Dane said.


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