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

billy backstay

Backstay, never bought a suit, never went to Vegas
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.

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,868
1,249
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.

 

Rasputin22

Rasputin22
14,570
4,097
2yxrx3k.jpg


 

DRP

New member
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

 

IStream

Super Anarchist
11,022
3,201
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.

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,868
1,249
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.

 

Laurent

Super Anarchist
2,376
2,080
Houston
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. 

 

mikewof

mikewof
45,868
1,249
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?

 
Last edited by a moderator:

lasal

Super Anarchist
2,558
173
Denver
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)





 

mikewof

mikewof
45,868
1,249
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.

 

bacq2bacq

Anarchist
603
254
Ottawa
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.

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:

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.

 

linaszuk

Member
244
42
60513
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





 

mikewof

mikewof
45,868
1,249
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.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Ed Lada

Super Anarchist
20,182
5,827
Poland
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

 
Last edited by a moderator:

bacq2bacq

Anarchist
603
254
Ottawa
@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.

 

Ed Lada

Super Anarchist
20,182
5,827
Poland
@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.

 


Latest posts





Top