Robert Dane receives the WWF Futuremakers Award
April 5, 2012
On Saturday 31st March at the Sydney Opera House, the WWF Earth Hour Awards
celebrated the outstanding efforts of everyday Australians going ‘beyond the hour’ for the
planet, with schools, businesses and individuals taking action for a more sustainable future.
Collectively, we face some difficult environmental challenges, from climate change to loss of
biodiversity to population pressures and resource depletion. However we have the ingenuity
and creativity to change the way we live.
The Futuremakers Award is for outstanding individuals thinking outside the box and
implementing big, bold, creative ideas and initiatives that will transform our future.
In 1996 Dr. Robert Dane, winner of the 2012 Futuremakers Award, saw a solar boat race
that changed his life. By the next year, he had designed and built a solarsailing boat of his
own, using the most abundant sources of energy on water: sun and wind. Now operating in
Newcastle, the SolarSailor ferry has inspired others to approach Dr. Dane for similar vessels
in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The operation has this year led to the development of a
renewable energy powered unmanned drone along with a feasibility study for the use of
SolarSail technology for bulk cargo transport. BBC’s Tomorrow’s World described
SolarSailor’s technology as “possibly the greatest revolution in boats since the advent of
“We need to recognise that the challenge we face
is nothing short of a crisis which will require the
best minds, the boldest ideas and the strongest
wills in order to succeed.”
Dermot O’Gorman, CEO WWF Australia.
Hosting a WWF Earth Hour Cruise on board the SolarSailor
catamaran, Dr Robert said: “It is a great honour to receive this
prestigious award from an outstanding field of entrants. Thank you
to the judges and the WWF. The ideas celebrated tonight show we
can achieve a sustainable future. I believe shipping will go back to
the future and harness the energy available at sea like the sailing
ships of old, but in a new way, using solar sails that capture both sun
and wind energy.”