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Solar-Powered Shipping to Save 250 Million Tons of Fuel Per Year

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With solar powered shipping set to be the next big thing in cargo shipping, pollution-spewing cargo vessels could soon be a thing of the past.

International technology company Eco Marine Power (EMP), based in Fukuoka, Japan, develops innovative renewable energy fuel and emissions-reduction technologies for shipping and offshore applications. According to EMP, their pioneering solar power ship system, the Aquarius MRE, 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 CO2 emissions.” If all goes well, this technology could also be extended to the cruise ship and ore carrier sectors.

The rigid, yet thin and flexible, solar panel sails make use of all the solar and wind energy readily available in the open sea and can lower a large cargo ship’s emissions by 10% (around 4 tons of fuel a day). 10% might not seem like a massive decrease, but if you factor in the hundreds of thousands of ships that are traveling around the world annually, this would amount to a reduction of 250 million tonsof fuel per year.

Is Solar Power the Future of Shipping?

With a reported 60,000 deaths a year attributed to shipping emissions, something needed to be done to reduce the environmental impact, and solar-powered shipping solutions seem like an important, and perhaps obvious, move.

However, the cost for solar panels for one ship are around $200-$500,000 and companies won’t see a return in their investment for at least five to eight years, so, unfortunately, shipowners aren’t exactly leaping at this opportunity - especially since no one was pressuring them to watch their emissions until very recently.

As of April 2018, the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a climate change strategy for shipping to cut emissions and align itself with the Paris Agreement’s standards, so it looks like things are about to change in shipping whether they like it or not. The changes that are already starting to take place have to do with relinquishing the use of dirty heavy fuel oil –the cheapest and, up until recently, the preferred option for most shipowners – and shift to something better for the environment, such as biofuels and batteries, or solar power.

China has already launched a 2000-metric-ton, all-electric cargo ship (hauling coal – essentially missing the point of clean energy, but that’s another story), and EMP reports that shipowners are starting to contact them to see how they can get emissions down – possibly something to do with the new rules enforced by the IMO that are coming into effect in 2020. While fully ecological shipping is still decades away, the good news is that efforts are being made and people are getting on board.

The cost for solar panels on ships might be great, but the cost to the environment for not doing so is even greater as the shipping industry is the sixth largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the world. So whether a cheaper solar power option becomes available, or solar panels on ships eventually become mandatory, or whether shipowners start to dig into their pockets (and their consciences) to help the environment, still remains to be seen.

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It's still early, but ships will go to solar, wind and wave power for the same reasons the grid is gradually moving in that direction ... It's getting cheaper than fossil fuels.

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Better check your facts.  There are not "hundreds of thousands ships".  The number is less than 54,000 according to Google:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264024/number-of-merchant-ships-worldwide-by-type/

I'm all for reducing pollution, but incorrect facts will hurt the debate. 

The quickest most economical way to radically reduce emissions from shipping is to outlaw the use of bunker oil and switch to diesel.  Start here if you need convincing:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

 

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49 minutes ago, DRP said:

Better check your facts.  There are not "hundreds of thousands ships".  The number is less than 54,000 according to Google:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264024/number-of-merchant-ships-worldwide-by-type/

I'm all for reducing pollution, but incorrect facts will hurt the debate. 

The quickest most economical way to radically reduce emissions from shipping is to outlaw the use of bunker oil and switch to diesel.  Start here if you need convincing:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

 

They're also converting ships to run on LNG, which will help even more, though obviously it still involves a huge carbon footprint.

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1 hour ago, DRP said:

Better check your facts.  There are not "hundreds of thousands ships".  The number is less than 54,000 according to Google:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264024/number-of-merchant-ships-worldwide-by-type/

I'm all for reducing pollution, but incorrect facts will hurt the debate. 

The quickest most economical way to radically reduce emissions from shipping is to outlaw the use of bunker oil and switch to diesel.  Start here if you need convincing:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

 

Converting a ship from bunker (steam turbine) to diesel is a major conversion. I would rather we stick with bunker oil and do s staged rollout of renewable energy for new ships.

The problem with converting to an already-outdated technology like diesel, is that it violently slows down the adoption of the correct, low-entropy solutions. The USA alone has some 100 GW of wind/solar energy feeding the grid right now, we can move our shipping in this direction, it's not really a major technical problem.

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It's happening by 2020 regardless, due to sulfur emissions regulations. You either stick with bunker fuel and install sulfur scrubbers, switch to diesel, or switch to LNG.

This article is a year old but it covers the situation pretty well:

https://www.ttnews.com/articles/cargo-ships-may-switch-diesel-fuel-2020

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4 hours ago, mikewof said:

The USA alone has some 100 GW of wind/solar energy feeding the grid right now, we can move our shipping in this direction, it's not really a major technical problem.

Or is it a major technical problem?

How much horsepower is a Panamax cargoship? How many square feet of solar panels do you need to produce ***on average*** that much power (taking into account rainy days,  nights, etc...).

Genuine question, I have not looked at the data. 

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20 minutes ago, Laurent said:

Or is it a major technical problem?

How much horsepower is a Panamax cargoship? How many square feet of solar panels do you need to produce ***on average*** that much power (taking into account rainy days,  nights, etc...).

Genuine question, I have not looked at the data. 

It's not ready yet, but it's getting there. The calculation isn't too hard to do a back-of-the-envelope ...

A triple E container ship with twin screws, each at 30,000 kW has sufficient peak power for most any need out of tow. (About 80,000 horsepower.) But most of the cruising is done at hull speed for the ship, about 45 knots to 50 knots, and it's the cross-section that slows the boat, so about 8 MW total sustained power to electric screws, which are more efficient that steaming the screws. (Batteries can be used for the brief surges of power for maneuvering, emergencies, etc..) And I'm making an estimate on the 8 MW, based on the cross sectional water resistance of that hull.

A solar PV "roof" over the cargo area would be good for about 200 watts per square meter delivered to the batteries. It would have to be completely convertible, to save the advantage of the hatchless container design, so they would have swing away. They could even be mounted to the top of each uppermost container. The Triple E has a total top area of about 400 meters times 60 meters, about 24,000 square meters, or enough for about 4.8 MW total. With a more realistic 90% coverage, about 4 MW, which is getting kind of close to the power needs for the boat. Realistically though, it would make more sense to generate only about 1 MW solar and provide the rest in wind. A few small 1 MW wind turbines would generate the necessary power without needing turbine height or blade length that is too long. A small sailboat wind turbine can easily make 0.5 kW in functional conditions.

But the bigger barrier is that a container ship is an incredibly efficient machine, even with the bunker oil. The amount of power that it actually needs to move those hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo is tiny compared to any other mode of transportation on the planet, like trains and trucks.

In that regard, this whole conversation is kind of a nonstarter. Pound-per-pound, container ships are the most green, and energy efficient form of transportation on the planet. Why should be even worry about them yet when we have a much bigger problem of pollution and carbon from trucks, manufacturing and power generation?

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1 hour ago, mikewof said:

It's not ready yet, but it's getting there. The calculation isn't too hard to do a back-of-the-envelope ...

A triple E container ship with twin screws, each at 30,000 kW has sufficient peak power for most any need out of tow. (About 80,000 horsepower.) But most of the cruising is done at hull speed for the ship, about 45 knots to 50 knots, and it's the cross-section that slows the boat, so about 8 MW total sustained power to electric screws, which are more efficient that steaming the screws. (Batteries can be used for the brief surges of power for maneuvering, emergencies, etc..) And I'm making an estimate on the 8 MW, based on the cross sectional water resistance of that hull.

A solar PV "roof" over the cargo area would be good for about 200 watts per square meter delivered to the batteries. It would have to be completely convertible, to save the advantage of the hatchless container design, so they would have swing away. They could even be mounted to the top of each uppermost container. The Triple E has a total top area of about 400 meters times 60 meters, about 24,000 square meters, or enough for about 4.8 MW total. With a more realistic 90% coverage, about 4 MW, which is getting kind of close to the power needs for the boat. Realistically though, it would make more sense to generate only about 1 MW solar and provide the rest in wind. A few small 1 MW wind turbines would generate the necessary power without needing turbine height or blade length that is too long. A small sailboat wind turbine can easily make 0.5 kW in functional conditions.

But the bigger barrier is that a container ship is an incredibly efficient machine, even with the bunker oil. The amount of power that it actually needs to move those hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo is tiny compared to any other mode of transportation on the planet, like trains and trucks.

In that regard, this whole conversation is kind of a nonstarter. Pound-per-pound, container ships are the most green, and energy efficient form of transportation on the planet. Why should be even worry about them yet when we have a much bigger problem of pollution and carbon from trucks, manufacturing and power generation?

We should clean up shipping because while pound for pound they are efficient, you've got to know just how dirty they are. Plus, on efficiency, you should include the fact that they don't shut them down too often. That's true of trucks too, and a bad practice. (Not anchoring trucks, running them constantly.)

Start with clean hulls, slower speed, cleaning the exhaust, then hopefully electric becomes tenable. Someday.

Did you say container ships cruise at 45 to 50 knots? Yes, I think you did. I think it's more like:

Speed:

Design cruise: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) Max: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)

 

 

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17 hours ago, lasal said:

We should clean up shipping because while pound for pound they are efficient, you've got to know just how dirty they are. Plus, on efficiency, you should include the fact that they don't shut them down too often. That's true of trucks too, and a bad practice. (Not anchoring trucks, running them constantly.)

Start with clean hulls, slower speed, cleaning the exhaust, then hopefully electric becomes tenable. Someday.

Did you say container ships cruise at 45 to 50 knots? Yes, I think you did. I think it's more like:

Speed:

Design cruise: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) Max: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)

 

 

He asked about Panamax, isn't the triple E hull speed close to 45 knots? But okay, so if they cruise at half of their hull speed then a solid 4 MW cruise power? That should be obtainable with solar and wind.

But in my opinion, we have a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve air quality, and container ships aren't even a big enough problem to focus yet. I would rather look at combustion particulates, concrete manufacturing, diesel.

The big problem with diesel is that it's a really toxic particulate stream because the particle size has to be very small (submicron) to accommodate things like valve seals. At least bunker oil with a steam turbine emits a regular bimodal effluent that aggregates itself. It's ugly, but it's not as toxic as diesel.

And practicality is part of this too. Shipping operates under various flags of convenience, and much of the time, it's in international waters. We can't control those emissions except when they are in littoral waters and in port. But trucking and manufacturing can be legislated.

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I recall reading in a Scientific American in the 70s, perhaps early 80s, about dramatic increases in atmospheric particulate concentration measured using a laser between two mountain-tops.  One hears very little about particulates, it's all about the CO2 now.  I wonder what graphs of particulates over time look like, say since the 70s.

8 minutes ago, mikewof said:

Shipping operates under various flags of convenience, and much of the time, it's in international waters. We can't control those emissions except when they are in littoral waters and in port.

I think this points out something of a flaw in our global governance, No?  Talk about a large commons, the potential for a grand and global tragedy...

If we can just get ourselves some nice, safe, cost-effective, lightweight, energy-dense electrical storage, I think we'll be ok...

No one has mentioned Skysails, Kiteship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkySails:

Quote

There’s a structural problem slowing down the process: ship owners (who have to make the investment) often don’t pay for the fuel – that’s the charterer’s duty. The charterer on the other side doesn’t charter the ship for long enough a period to make low-carbon technologies pay back.

Looks like as is often the case, a division of financial responsibility and liability makes it harder to just "do the right thing". 

Mostly, we've screwed up our world through bad finance, bad economics.  Bad engineering and dirty technology follows, not leads that.

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On 6/28/2019 at 12:17 PM, mikewof said:

He asked about Panamax, isn't the triple E hull speed close to 45 knots? But okay, so if they cruise at half of their hull speed then a solid 4 MW cruise power? That should be obtainable with solar and wind.

But in my opinion, we have a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve air quality, and container ships aren't even a big enough problem to focus yet. I would rather look at combustion particulates, concrete manufacturing, diesel.

The big problem with diesel is that it's a really toxic particulate stream because the particle size has to be very small (submicron) to accommodate things like valve seals. At least bunker oil with a steam turbine emits a regular bimodal effluent that aggregates itself. It's ugly, but it's not as toxic as diesel.

And practicality is part of this too. Shipping operates under various flags of convenience, and much of the time, it's in international waters. We can't control those emissions except when they are in littoral waters and in port. But trucking and manufacturing can be legislated.

Speed:

Design cruise: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) Max: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)

got it from - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maersk_Triple_E-class_container_ship

 

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How dare you insert facts and references into this discussion!

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40 minutes ago, IStream said:

How dare you insert facts and references into this discussion!

I used the max possible hull speed for the boat. That gives an upper limit of the energy needed to move the thing.

That is has a cruise speed that is lower than the hull speed merely means (usually) that less energy is needed to be delivered to screws to keep the thing moving at cruise speed.

Lasal already showed the cruise speed at 16 some knots, so a good bit less than 4 MW is needed to keep the thing at constant speed there, probably less than 2 MW. That bolsters the idea of wind and solar powered shipping. Slower boats tend to use less energy for a given length, it's the nature of the water resistance.

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I realize this miight sound a little crazy but how about reducing consumption.  That would reduce the need for all forms of transportation thereby saving non-renewable energy and reducing emissions.  Yes, I realize that would also reduce employmnet but we live in a capitalist driven society that doesn't give a shit about anything but profits.  It would be nice if maybe the worlcould be driven by human concerns and not profit above all other things.   We will burn out or fade away one way or another, I prefer the kinder, gentler, human driven option.

 

Uni.jpg

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@Ed Lada you advocate "slowing down growth", perhaps even - shudder - "shrinking", I think, when you ask: "how about reducing consumption?"

Despite the rainbows and unicorns, and all the optimism in the world, we now cannot reduce consumption and shrink our economies without creating huge disruption, and very likely crash the global financial system.

If our governments do not have a bigger GDP-base to tax, year after year, they start to get very, very nervous.  If GDP does not grow faster than debt, the system breaks.  It is already pretty broken in Japan and EU.

It is not "capitalism" that is our big problem now, nor "profits".  We have created a global financial system that is unsustainable, because it demands continuous growth and our resources are finite.  Don't blame profitable capitalists who create the surpluses that allow us to eat, be warm, and be charitable.  A few giant sociopathic megalo-maniacal multinationals sure, but don't throw out the beautiful baby when you drain the swampwater.  We need capitalism.  We need financial incentive (profit).   We don't need war, nor vast vampiric bureaucracies of well-intentioned pencil-pushers adding layers of inefficiency to our economies, nor a cabal of globalist elites who already think they own most of the world, and do, on paper, but who want it all.

Just sayin.

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28 minutes ago, bacq2bacq said:

@Ed Lada you advocate "slowing down growth", perhaps even - shudder - "shrinking", I think, when you ask: "how about reducing consumption?"

Despite the rainbows and unicorns, and all the optimism in the world, we now cannot reduce consumption and shrink our economies without creating huge disruption, and very likely crash the global financial system.

If our governments do not have a bigger GDP-base to tax, year after year, they start to get very, very nervous.  If GDP does not grow faster than debt, the system breaks.  It is already pretty broken in Japan and EU.

It is not "capitalism" that is our big problem now, nor "profits".  We have created a global financial system that is unsustainable, because it demands continuous growth and our resources are finite.  Don't blame profitable capitalists who create the surpluses that allow us to eat, be warm, and be charitable.  A few giant sociopathic megalo-maniacal multinationals sure, but don't throw out the beautiful baby when you drain the swampwater.  We need capitalism.  We need financial incentive (profit).   We don't need war, nor vast vampiric bureaucracies of well-intentioned pencil-pushers adding layers of inefficiency to our economies, nor a cabal of globalist elites who already think they own most of the world, and do, on paper, but who want it all.

Just sayin.

Well yes, however an environmental disaster will wreak more hvoc than a crash in the financial system.  Perhapos that what we need,, a crash in the sytem and we can start over with a little different model.  I am just glad I am old, I'm covered no matter what happens.  Covered with dirt, that is.

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On 6/28/2019 at 11:17 AM, mikewof said:

He asked about Panamax, isn't the triple E hull speed close to 45 knots? But okay, so if they cruise at half of their hull speed then a solid 4 MW cruise power? That should be obtainable with solar and wind.

But in my opinion, we have a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve air quality, and container ships aren't even a big enough problem to focus yet. I would rather look at combustion particulates, concrete manufacturing, diesel.

The big problem with diesel is that it's a really toxic particulate stream because the particle size has to be very small (submicron) to accommodate things like valve seals. At least bunker oil with a steam turbine emits a regular bimodal effluent that aggregates itself. It's ugly, but it's not as toxic as diesel.

And practicality is part of this too. Shipping operates under various flags of convenience, and much of the time, it's in international waters. We can't control those emissions except when they are in littoral waters and in port. But trucking and manufacturing can be legislated.

I think theoretical hull speed gets weird when calculating power req's for large ships. I do wonder what a Panamax bow wave and trough would look like at 45knots. Sailing into it you might not see the horizon for a while!. A lot of us are used to using theoretical hull speed for displacement sailboats but for ships speed to length and the Froude number are used from what I recall. How that relates to the required KWs I dunno. Seems like it would be the same whether ultimately powered with electrons or hydrocarbons.

On cleaning up low hanging fruit shipping very well might be that fruit as these ships are replaced. I don't recall the number, but the CO2 and the dirty stuff from ships is significant I think while the total number of units to replace, while expensive per, is quite small. Could be an important near term project for a global effort to reduce carbon.

 

 

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9 hours ago, lasal said:

I think theoretical hull speed gets weird when calculating power req's for large ships. I do wonder what a Panamax bow wave and trough would look like at 45knots. Sailing into it you might not see the horizon for a while!. A lot of us are used to using theoretical hull speed for displacement sailboats but for ships speed to length and the Froude number are used from what I recall. How that relates to the required KWs I dunno. Seems like it would be the same whether ultimately powered with electrons or hydrocarbons.

On cleaning up low hanging fruit shipping very well might be that fruit as these ships are replaced. I don't recall the number, but the CO2 and the dirty stuff from ships is significant I think while the total number of units to replace, while expensive per, is quite small. Could be an important near term project for a global effort to reduce carbon.

I assume that the 15-some knots cruise is some kind of optimization for stability, efficiency, and mass of the engine and fuel. But the coefficient for those hatchless container ships is supposedly around 0.85, which I assume is necessary to avoid wasting too much internal volume on a hull shape that doesn't given them the stability they want anyway.

I like the idea of solar-powered and wind-powered freighters, it doesn't seem that difficult of a technical problem to make it happen. But the economic incentive to make it happen is something else, we might not actually see these for 20 years.

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OK, so I looked at Panamax cargo ship for sale... Not that I want to buy one though.

Here is one:

https://shipsforsale.su/en/catalog/tankers/panamax/TBN0643/

Given for 13,610 bhp, which translate to 10,000 kW more or less.

If you consider that you cannot produce electrical power 50% of the time (very wild ass guess, but taking into account night time, cloudy time, and "bad angle time" near sun rise and sunset, assuming we are talking about a fixed, horizontal array of solar panels, not some sophisticated tilting panels), that means that the boat needs to be able to produce in the best conditions:

20,000 kWh of energy, half of the time it is sailing.

From this site, we can guestimate the output of a solar panel, under best conditions, per square foot.

https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-much-electricity-does-a-solar-panel-produce/

It amounts to about 18 W per sq ft. For 12 hours per day, we need a production of 20,000,000 W... It is over 1 MILLION sq ft of solar panels. or 31,500 sq meters.

In my first link above, the cargo is 228.5 meters long by 32.24 meters wide. Even if we consider it a big fat rectangle shape (not far from that, actually), and it is ENTIRELY covered with solar panels, we get 7,366 sq meter. It is only a quarter of the surface actually needed to power that ship electrically through solar panels.

 

So the industry needs a 4 fold improvement before we can swap power sources. Quite a challenge, but most likely not unreachable.

 

YES, I made some wild guess assumptions; but this still should be in the ball park. 

 

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4 hours ago, Laurent said:

OK, so I looked at Panamax cargo ship for sale... Not that I want to buy one though.

Here is one:

https://shipsforsale.su/en/catalog/tankers/panamax/TBN0643/

Given for 13,610 bhp, which translate to 10,000 kW more or less.

If you consider that you cannot produce electrical power 50% of the time (very wild ass guess, but taking into account night time, cloudy time, and "bad angle time" near sun rise and sunset, assuming we are talking about a fixed, horizontal array of solar panels, not some sophisticated tilting panels), that means that the boat needs to be able to produce in the best conditions:

20,000 kWh of energy, half of the time it is sailing.

From this site, we can guestimate the output of a solar panel, under best conditions, per square foot.

https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-much-electricity-does-a-solar-panel-produce/

It amounts to about 18 W per sq ft. For 12 hours per day, we need a production of 20,000,000 W... It is over 1 MILLION sq ft of solar panels. or 31,500 sq meters.

In my first link above, the cargo is 228.5 meters long by 32.24 meters wide. Even if we consider it a big fat rectangle shape (not far from that, actually), and it is ENTIRELY covered with solar panels, we get 7,366 sq meter. It is only a quarter of the surface actually needed to power that ship electrically through solar panels.

 

So the industry needs a 4 fold improvement before we can swap power sources. Quite a challenge, but most likely not unreachable.

 

YES, I made some wild guess assumptions; but this still should be in the ball park. 

 

The reference you gave claims that the average solar panel produces 15W per square feet, not 18W.

1 million square feet = 93,000 sq meters.

This site:

https://www.solar-estimate.org/solar-panels-101/how-much-do-solar-panels-produce

Indicates that for panels at an optimum tilt angle and oriented south you would get somewhere in the area of 2.8-4.8 kWh per day for each

kW of solar panels in different states in the US. 

To power the ship at 10,000 kW, you need 240,000 kWh per day.  If you assume  an "Arizona" quality of power production (4.8),  you need 50,000 kW of solar panels.  At 15 W per square foot, this means that you need 3,333,000 square feet, or 310,000 square meters.  So if you put in 7,366 square meters of panels you are getting 1/42 of what you need.

 

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On 6/29/2019 at 5:17 AM, mikewof said:

He asked about Panamax, isn't the triple E hull speed close to 45 knots? But okay, so if they cruise at half of their hull speed then a solid 4 MW cruise power? That should be obtainable with solar and wind.

But in my opinion, we have a lot of low-hanging fruit to improve air quality, and container ships aren't even a big enough problem to focus yet. I would rather look at combustion particulates, concrete manufacturing, diesel.

The big problem with diesel is that it's a really toxic particulate stream because the particle size has to be very small (submicron) to accommodate things like valve seals. At least bunker oil with a steam turbine emits a regular bimodal effluent that aggregates itself. It's ugly, but it's not as toxic as diesel.

And practicality is part of this too. Shipping operates under various flags of convenience, and much of the time, it's in international waters. We can't control those emissions except when they are in littoral waters and in port. But trucking and manufacturing can be legislated.

FFS Mike.  How about some at least basic research before posting crap like this aye?

Well the speed has been discussed, but remember, if you 1/2 the speed of ships, then you need twice as many of them, and twice as many crews etc.

Fuel.  Ships bunker heavy fuel oil and heat it to reduce the viscosity then burn it in internal combustion engines the same way diesel is burned.  It's not clean, in fact is has loads of sulfur in it an new ships are being built with exhaust scrubbers to deal with that.

4 MW?  really. That's a bow thruster for something that size,  you're not even playing the same game net alone being within any ballpark.

How the fuck do you intend to truck freight across oceans?  RORO's maybe?

Come on Mikey,  Basic research.

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8 hours ago, slap said:

The reference you gave claims that the average solar panel produces 15W per square feet, not 18W.

1 million square feet = 93,000 sq meters.

This site:

https://www.solar-estimate.org/solar-panels-101/how-much-do-solar-panels-produce

Indicates that for panels at an optimum tilt angle and oriented south you would get somewhere in the area of 2.8-4.8 kWh per day for each

kW of solar panels in different states in the US. 

To power the ship at 10,000 kW, you need 240,000 kWh per day.  If you assume  an "Arizona" quality of power production (4.8),  you need 50,000 kW of solar panels.  At 15 W per square foot, this means that you need 3,333,000 square feet, or 310,000 square meters.  So if you put in 7,366 square meters of panels you are getting 1/42 of what you need.

 

slap, thanks for the correction, gross error on my part for the conversion of sq ft to sq meters (we are talking of surfaces, not volumes... DUH!)

Also, my 50% efficiency was a wild ass guess; I was apparently waaayyyy too optimistic...

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13 hours ago, Laurent said:

OK, so I looked at Panamax cargo ship for sale... Not that I want to buy one though.

Here is one:

https://shipsforsale.su/en/catalog/tankers/panamax/TBN0643/

Given for 13,610 bhp, which translate to 10,000 kW more or less.

If you consider that you cannot produce electrical power 50% of the time (very wild ass guess, but taking into account night time, cloudy time, and "bad angle time" near sun rise and sunset, assuming we are talking about a fixed, horizontal array of solar panels, not some sophisticated tilting panels), that means that the boat needs to be able to produce in the best conditions:

20,000 kWh of energy, half of the time it is sailing.

From this site, we can guestimate the output of a solar panel, under best conditions, per square foot.

https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-much-electricity-does-a-solar-panel-produce/

It amounts to about 18 W per sq ft. For 12 hours per day, we need a production of 20,000,000 W... It is over 1 MILLION sq ft of solar panels. or 31,500 sq meters.

In my first link above, the cargo is 228.5 meters long by 32.24 meters wide. Even if we consider it a big fat rectangle shape (not far from that, actually), and it is ENTIRELY covered with solar panels, we get 7,366 sq meter. It is only a quarter of the surface actually needed to power that ship electrically through solar panels.

 

So the industry needs a 4 fold improvement before we can swap power sources. Quite a challenge, but most likely not unreachable.

 

YES, I made some wild guess assumptions; but this still should be in the ball park. 

 

 

Estimates are hard, but this assumes that all of the boat's engines are to be replaced with directly-coupled solar pv to electric motors. The more logical conversion keeps some amount of diesel power on the boat in a diesel-electric configuration, which then gets rid of the bunker-oil and steam turbines, the biggest offenders at this point, more so than the relatively clean diesel fuel (which is still pretty dirty) burned in large bore two-stroke engines.

The OP suggested a combination of solar PV and wind, which is the logical choice, because one of those container ships could readily take on 5 - 10 MW of wind power, from relatively small turbines of about 1 MW each. (Current land-based turbines, the big ones, are about 4 - 5 MW each.) Current solar panel (like the kind on the roof of my house) produce about 200 watts per square meter from an average 1,000 watts per square meter of energy from the sun, they are about 20% efficient. So the top of that container ship you referenced, has some 6,000 square meters of space on the tops of the containers, good for about 1.2 MW of commercial panels latched on top of the upper-most containers. Add in several of the smaller 1 MW rail-mounted turbines (without overdoing the number, so they don't get in the way of the hatchless unloading system) and with your 10 MW Panamax cruising estimate, that's close to 80% renewable energy for 50% of its cruising day, and 40% renewable energy for its cruising night. It could go above that, wind power is cheap.

Your estimate is ball-park reasonable is someone made the weird decision to remove a cargo ships engines and replace with nothing but solar electric. But the OP didn't suggest that. The OP's suggestion is reasonable with existing solar and wind power sources.

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On 6/28/2019 at 7:17 PM, mikewof said:

The big problem with diesel is that it's a really toxic particulate stream because the particle size has to be very small (submicron) to accommodate things like valve seals. At least bunker oil with a steam turbine emits a regular bimodal effluent that aggregates itself. It's ugly, but it's not as toxic as diesel.

 

19 minutes ago, mikewof said:

The more logical conversion keeps some amount of diesel power on the boat in a diesel-electric configuration, which then gets rid of the bunker-oil and steam turbines, the biggest offenders at this point, more so than the relatively clean diesel fuel (which is still pretty dirty) burned in large bore two-stroke engines.

I am confused Mike.  How do you reconcile the condradictory statements above?

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7 hours ago, floating dutchman said:

FFS Mike.  How about some at least basic research before posting crap like this aye?

Well the speed has been discussed, but remember, if you 1/2 the speed of ships, then you need twice as many of them, and twice as many crews etc.

Fuel.  Ships bunker heavy fuel oil and heat it to reduce the viscosity then burn it in internal combustion engines the same way diesel is burned.  It's not clean, in fact is has loads of sulfur in it an new ships are being built with exhaust scrubbers to deal with that.

4 MW?  really. That's a bow thruster for something that size,  you're not even playing the same game net alone being within any ballpark.

How the fuck do you intend to truck freight across oceans?  RORO's maybe?

Come on Mikey,  Basic research.

Huh? I didn't suggest that the ships go half-speed. Where did you get that?

We discussed the hull-speed versus cruise speed of those container ships, they tend to use a Froude coefficient of 0.8 to get a more stable, fuel-efficient hull that can hold a lot of containers. What does that have to do with sending container ships out at half-speed?

As for the bunker oil, I'm not sure that you have that right, maybe someone else can add to the discussion who has worked with those. The big bore two stroke engines burn diesel, I thought that they cannot burn bunker oil regardless the viscosity because the engine seals are incompatible with poorly-graded oil like that. The only bunker oil system that I've personally walked through, burned the oil to heat a steam turbine.

But it IS clean, regardless what you write, because you're just looking at the total output, not the output per unit shipped. Even with that filthy bunker oil, that container ship is moving that cargo about an order of magnitude more efficiently than anything on land, sometimes more. Even the filthiest container ships are very clean (per unit of cargo) compared to trucks and many trains.

As for the engine output versus the engine size, the engines aren't running at full-throttle for cruise, isn't it less than half-throttle or even 1/3 throttle? Why would anyone put enough renewable energy on the boat to provide anything more than the lowest possible cruise speed?

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2 minutes ago, Ed Lada said:

 

I am confused Mike.  How do you reconcile the condradictory statements above?

They're not contradictory.

Diesel DOES burn cleaner than fuel oil. It's a refined fuel. But just because it looks cleaner, doesn't mean its less toxic. The bunker oil is less toxic because it has a particulate size density that is far less respirable than the particulate size from diesel.

When fuel oil is burned, that visible cloud of a smoke is a "bimodal particulate" where there are course-mode particulates (gunk that sintered off the burning oil) and fine-mode particulates (those formed in the air from chemicals that burned off of the fuel). All kinds of thing burn with this bimodal distribution; wood, a cigarette, a pile of sawdust, an oil fire, etc.. But diesel CAN'T burn with this distribution because it would kill the engine, the seals would be toast within hours. So the diesel is reasonably well controlled to emit particulates that are not in that larger course mode. You'll often get course mode particulates out of the exhaust stack because those tend to condense in the effluent, but not at the manifold.

You can see that in a modern diesel engine, the exhaust is no longer thick black smoke like in the 1970s, but rather it looks no different from a gasoline engine smoke, assuming the pollution controls work properly. The output from that engine is in the fine mode particulates, the invisible ones because they are smaller than about 3 microns, often smaller than even a micron.

In air pollution though, the small particles are the poisonous ones, because submicron particles can pass right through the alveolar parts of the lungs and pass through the blood barrier. Course mode particulates (like from bunker oil in an open steam turbine) are disgusting to look at, but they can't penetrate our lungs, they tend to impact in our upper respiratory system, where we can cough them our or phlegm them out. There is no similar, natural removal for fine mode particulates in the lungs. The only way to remove those is through the internal organs, once they enter the bloodstream.

So finally, what happens when someone burns fuel oil for a steam turbine is that the bimodal distribution remains intact, and those coarse mode particulates aggregate to the fine mode particulates which then allows them to be removed from the air. Without those course mode particulates (like from a well-tuned modern diesel engine) the fine mode particulates have nothing on which they can aggregate, and they have a ridiculously long Stokes settling time, on the order of months and even years. (Course mode particulates settle out of the air in hours and days.) So the visibly cleaner burn results in a more toxic air stew than the visibly dirtier burn.

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The most efficient form of transportation by far is a a human powered bicycle.  But that's not too practical for shipping big loads unless you are very patient, like the Viet Cong were during rthe Viet Nam war.  They transported most of the goods down the Ho Chi Min trail by bicycle, although often the human were walking and pushing the heavily laden bikes, not riding them.

When it comes to purely mechanical powered transport ships are quite a bit more efficient than the next best thing, trains.  The US and Europe could save a lot of energy and pollution by shipping more goods by intermodal trains (trailers or containers on flat cars), not long haul trucks.  Europe is relatively small with a vast rail infrastructure yet they ship relatively little freight by train, but they move a lot of people by rail.   Germany's high speed express inter city passenger trains (ICE) run 100% on green energy (electricity produced by solar and wind), or so they claim.  The US utilizes large, economical unit trains for bulk cargo such as coal or grain, but could ship a lot more intermodal containers.  Part of the problem in the US is building and maintaining the infrasructure, it isn't cheap in such a large country.  Much more rail would need to be laid, mountains moved, and tunnels and bridges built or rebuilt to get a large amount of trucks off of the roads.

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On 6/27/2019 at 9:50 AM, DRP said:

Better check your facts.  There are not "hundreds of thousands ships".  The number is less than 54,000 according to Google:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/264024/number-of-merchant-ships-worldwide-by-type/

I'm all for reducing pollution, but incorrect facts will hurt the debate. 

The quickest most economical way to radically reduce emissions from shipping is to outlaw the use of bunker oil and switch to diesel.  Start here if you need convincing:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1229857/How-16-ships-create-pollution-cars-world.html

 

I'd add that the project described in the OP only applies to bulk carriers, it can't be used on deck-loaders, such as container ships. Container ships must be struck from that list. 

 https://www.ecomarinepower.com/en/news/130-aquarius-mre-project-and-shipowner-prepare-for-sea-trials

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18 hours ago, mikewof said:

Huh? I didn't suggest that the ships go half-speed. Where did you get that?

We discussed the hull-speed versus cruise speed of those container ships, they tend to use a Froude coefficient of 0.8 to get a more stable, fuel-efficient hull that can hold a lot of containers. What does that have to do with sending container ships out at half-speed?

As for the bunker oil, I'm not sure that you have that right, maybe someone else can add to the discussion who has worked with those. The big bore two stroke engines burn diesel, I thought that they cannot burn bunker oil regardless the viscosity because the engine seals are incompatible with poorly-graded oil like that. The only bunker oil system that I've personally walked through, burned the oil to heat a steam turbine.

But it IS clean, regardless what you write, because you're just looking at the total output, not the output per unit shipped. Even with that filthy bunker oil, that container ship is moving that cargo about an order of magnitude more efficiently than anything on land, sometimes more. Even the filthiest container ships are very clean (per unit of cargo) compared to trucks and many trains.

As for the engine output versus the engine size, the engines aren't running at full-throttle for cruise, isn't it less than half-throttle or even 1/3 throttle? Why would anyone put enough renewable energy on the boat to provide anything more than the lowest possible cruise speed?

The 1/2 speed was just illustrate that when you slow ships down you .need more of them to move the same amount of freight.

Trust me, Ships do not go around burning Diesel, It's far too expensive.  They are using heavy fuel oil in internal combustion engines.

I understand the fuel efficiency of ships over land based transport, but they could still be cleaner and the rules change next year I believe.

Do you really think that ships cruise about at 1/2 or 1/3 throttle?

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5 hours ago, floating dutchman said:

The 1/2 speed was just illustrate that when you slow ships down you .need more of them to move the same amount of freight.

Trust me, Ships do not go around burning Diesel, It's far too expensive.  They are using heavy fuel oil in internal combustion engines.

I understand the fuel efficiency of ships over land based transport, but they could still be cleaner and the rules change next year I believe.

Do you really think that ships cruise about at 1/2 or 1/3 throttle?

Okay, I'm bite ... where does a driver set the throttle of a fully-loaded Panamax hull for best efficiency?

My knowledge about this is probably out of date, but I thought that the heavy sludge needs to be a external burn, and internal combustion engines need a thinner oil like fuel oil. If they can burn bunker oil in a giant bore two-stroke, then that's new to me. You might be right, I just didn't know that. I've run bunker oil between my fingers, it was gritty, much thicker than even motor oil, it was practically like the stuff used to seal an asphalt parking lot ... how do the engine seals handle that much grit?

The long-ago tour I had on a boat like that used an open burn which ran a steam turbine.

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28 minutes ago, mikewof said:

If they can burn bunker oil in a giant bore two-stroke, then that's new to me.

If this is new to you, than you had better leave the conversation. Burning Bunker C in internal combustion engines has been around since at least WWII. When there is a reference to a marine diesel engine, that usually indicates that it is burning Bunker C. These diesel engines either 2 stroke or 4 stroke can burn everything from bunker through diesel with changes to the injectors and timing. It's not a big issue for these to burn straight diesel, comes down to hp vs cost.

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The bunker oil is heated. Hot enough to boil out the water. Smoking hot I think. And the grit settles out, too. 

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The ships I worked on kept the bunker storage tanks at 50 C to keep the bunker fluid, the bunker in the day tank was at 70 C to help drive off some water. the bunker at the injector pump was 270 C to get to atomize through the injector.

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On 7/3/2019 at 4:30 PM, Laurent said:

OK, so I looked at Panamax cargo ship for sale... Not that I want to buy one though.

Here is one:

https://shipsforsale.su/en/catalog/tankers/panamax/TBN0643/

Given for 13,610 bhp, which translate to 10,000 kW more or less.

If you consider that you cannot produce electrical power 50% of the time (very wild ass guess, but taking into account night time, cloudy time, and "bad angle time" near sun rise and sunset, assuming we are talking about a fixed, horizontal array of solar panels, not some sophisticated tilting panels), that means that the boat needs to be able to produce in the best conditions:

20,000 kWh of energy, half of the time it is sailing.

From this site, we can guestimate the output of a solar panel, under best conditions, per square foot.

https://www.solarpowerrocks.com/solar-basics/how-much-electricity-does-a-solar-panel-produce/

It amounts to about 18 W per sq ft. For 12 hours per day, we need a production of 20,000,000 W... It is over 1 MILLION sq ft of solar panels. or 31,500 sq meters.

In my first link above, the cargo is 228.5 meters long by 32.24 meters wide. Even if we consider it a big fat rectangle shape (not far from that, actually), and it is ENTIRELY covered with solar panels, we get 7,366 sq meter. It is only a quarter of the surface actually needed to power that ship electrically through solar panels.

 

So the industry needs a 4 fold improvement before we can swap power sources. Quite a challenge, but most likely not unreachable.

 

YES, I made some wild guess assumptions; but this still should be in the ball park. 

 

It's all but certain the intent is to supplement the wattage produced by the diesels, these are diesel electric plants, right? 

The can throttle back the diesels when the sun is shining, I suppose.  Anywho, here's some numbers on wattage. You got it about right for a small tanker....  

 https://marine.mandieselturbo.com/docs/librariesprovider6/technical-papers/propulsion-trends-in-tankers.pdf?sfvrsn=20

...and that no effin' way can they be thinking of getting rid of the diesels. Can't have one blowing on a lee shore in cloudy weather, nosireebob. 

 

  

  

 

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They are straight-diesel 2-stroke engine, not diesel-electric.  You stop engine and restart her after shifting cams, to go in reverse.   The big thing in the industry now is not electric, but how to switch to Low-Sulphur diesel fuels.  Straightforward if you are building new, more complicated if an existing engine.  Some will convert to LSD (no, not "that" LSD), others will install exhaust scrubbers to remove most of the sulfur from the smoke.  Expensive either way. 

Maybe after this cost has been absorbed by industry and after a decent money-making interval, they might be more interested in sail-assist on existing vessels?

 

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8 hours ago, El Boracho said:

The bunker oil is heated. Hot enough to boil out the water. Smoking hot I think. And the grit settles out, too. 

So the fuel is heated, the viscosity decreases, the grit falls out. Makes sense to how the bunker doesn't destroy the valve seals. Where does the grit settle into? With fuel draw like those big freighters, it must be buckets of grit per hour. I assume that some poor guy has the weekly job of pulling massive chunks of asphalt out of the fuel filters?

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6 hours ago, nolatom said:

They are straight-diesel 2-stroke engine, not diesel-electric.  You stop engine and restart her after shifting cams, to go in reverse.   The big thing in the industry now is not electric, but how to switch to Low-Sulphur diesel fuels.  Straightforward if you are building new, more complicated if an existing engine.  Some will convert to LSD (no, not "that" LSD), others will install exhaust scrubbers to remove most of the sulfur from the smoke.  Expensive either way. 

Maybe after this cost has been absorbed by industry and after a decent money-making interval, they might be more interested in sail-assist on existing vessels?

 

I can understand why, the generator and the motor are just extra weight and expense. 

Some guys touting solar panels made me think otherwise. Those things would be for in new vessels only and since they won't have a record of service....well...they've got a mighty tough row to hoe.  

 

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9 hours ago, mikewof said:

So the fuel is heated, the viscosity decreases, the grit falls out. Makes sense to how the bunker doesn't destroy the valve seals. Where does the grit settle into? With fuel draw like those big freighters, it must be buckets of grit per hour. I assume that some poor guy has the weekly job of pulling massive chunks of asphalt out of the fuel filters?

They have purifiers. They spin at high speed and put the sludge into a sludge tank that gets emptied in port then recycled, although I don't think there is as much grit in marine fuel as you are imagining.

And that poor guy is called the Motorman.

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3 hours ago, floating dutchman said:

They have purifiers. They spin at high speed and put the sludge into a sludge tank that gets emptied in port then recycled, although I don't think there is as much grit in marine fuel as you are imagining.

And that poor guy is called the Motorman.

Centrifuge ... makes sense.

Do you know of any open-burning steam turbined tankers anymore? Are those completely extinct? Does anything other than nuclear powered ships still use a steam turbine?

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