Bulk Shipping to Experience Wings of Change

November 11, 2012


The shipping industry is on the verge of experiencing dramatic change with rising fuel costs and new regulations as outlined in the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) driving the industry to make drastic changes in the way it operates. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could potentially be saved by companies annually across the various shipping routes of the world.

A tanker ship with sails that can be folded in half and are covered in solar panels.


Dr Robert Dane, WWF Futuremaker 2012 and CEO of award winning Australian technology design firm, Solar Sailor Holdings says “There is immense energy in the oceans which can be harvested and used by ships and we have the technology to efficiently harvest that energy”.

Energy for bulk shipping is going to be mainly harvested from the wind. Solar Sailor has developed a software program that models the fuel and cost savings by adding renewable energy of sun and wind on any shipping route on the globe. The program is capable of taking any route across the globe and using 22 years of NASA Cross-Calibrated Multi-Platform Ocean Wind data, it is able to provide an accurate historical mean of the energy savings by utilizing Solar Sails TM.

Tanker ship with the previously folded solar sails now open.

The model is dependant on certain assumptions that are made which include a typical ship engine fuel consumption of 170 g/KWh, bunker fuel price of US$720 per tonne, and not taking solar or stern power into account in the calculations. For example, commercial-shipping operators could potentially save approximately $150,000 to $240,000 in fuel costs on a panamax bulker on a Newcastle Shanghai trip for a return voyage. Trans-pacific journeys show greater fuel savings of $296,000 to $473,000 on a panamax bulker on a Los Angeles to Shanghai trip on a return voyage.

Tanker with solarsails that have four panels

Solar sailor’s solution is to have rigid wing sails that open up from a tiny wing into a much larger wing effectively doubling or quadrupling that area and also have the masts fold down onto the deck of the vessel where it sits flush with the openings of the cargo hulls. This makes it an ideal solution because it is easily retrofitted and does not pose any significant difficulties to cargo handling equipment. The wings and adjoining structures are inherently designed to have a factor of safety of 3 and 4 that make it very safe for operations in the marine environment. All the equipment stows away neatly and effortlessly with minimal or next to no hull penetrations.

If you would like further information on cost savings or to schedule an interview with Dr Robert Dane, please contact admin@solarsailor.com

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