Rigid sail and solar energy powered ship planned for 2018

Belgrano - one of the candidate ships for the Aquarius MRE system Belgrano - one of the candidate ships for the Aquarius MRE system

A ship propelled by rigid sail and solar power system, claimed to be the world’s first, is set to sail in 2018, after the completion of a feasibility study currently underway and sea trials utilising Fukuoka-based Eco Marine Power’s (EMP) Aquarius Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) solution.

The project is supported by Japanese shipowner Hisafuku Kisen KK and will involve several large bulk carriers including 2015-built 81,870-dwt Belgrano, 2017-built 81,870-dwt Nord Gemini, and 2009-built 55,486-dwt Bulk Chile.

For each ship, an estimate of the propulsive power that could be provided by EMP’s array of patented technologies including the EnergySail will be prepared according to the routes the ships operate on. In addition, the solar power capacity requirement for each vessel can be determined.

Upon completion of the feasibility study, one ship will be selected for the sea trials phase. During this phase a trial configuration that will incorporate all the elements of Aquarius MRE will be installed and evaluated during a period of 12 to 18 months.

The rigid sails used by Aquarius MRE are based on EMP’s EnergySail technology.

The Aquarius MRE in itself is an advanced integrated system of rigid sails, marine-grade solar panels, energy storage modules and marine computers that will enable ships to tap into renewable energy by harnessing the power provided by the wind and sun. The use of these alternative sources of power and propulsion will reduce fuel consumption, lower air pollution and cut carbon dioxide emissions.

These renewable energy devices can be used even when a ship is at anchor or in harbour.

Greg Atkinson, founder and chief technology officer of EMP, believed that the Aquarius MRE “will pave the way towards the widespread adoption of renewable energy on ships.”

Chikashi Yamane, president of Hisafuku Kisen, said: “Our company is pleased to be part of this exciting project which is leading the way towards the use of renewable energy related technologies on ships.”

A number of partners are involved in the Aquarius MRE project including KEI System, The Furukawa Battery Company and Teramoto Iron Works. EMP is also in discussions with several companies including potential investors, about their possible involvement in the project.

Posted 27 July 2017

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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