Solar Sails To Power International Shipping

The days when ocean trade routes were serviced by tall clipper ships bedecked with canvas sails, using wind and tide to navigate the globe, are long gone. They have been replaced by mile-long tankers, discharging vast amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere and consuming fossil fuels as they travel from port to port.
  
A return to the 1700s isn’t an option, however eco-friendly the shipping business may have been in those glory days; but a Japanese solar energy solutions company is working on a system that would install sails on ocean going vessels – in the form of giant solar panels.
  
Eco Marine Power Co. Ltd. (EMP) says that it will continue work on its Aquarius Solar and Wind Power System after a successful feasibility study was completed in 2010. 
  
By using the latest modern solar energy technology combined with a sophisticated onboard computer system, several rows of solar sails would be installed on a large vessel such as an oil tanker or bulk carrier. The solar sails could then be positioned to best take advantage of prevailing solar and wind energy to provide additional power to the ship, lowering fuel consumption and the vessels carbon footprint.
  
During rough weather the sails would retract into specially designed compartments on the ship’s deck.
 
EMP says the Aquarius solar sail system, though initially designed for large international ocean vessels, will be manufactured in such a way that it can be scaled down for use in smaller vessels such as coastal freighters, passenger ferries and tourist boats.
 
A prototype of the Aquarius solar sail energy system is expected to be built and ready for sea-trials in early 2012.