Solar powered ships


Solar power

To be correct wind, ocean currents and waves are all solar powered. However here, we'll just look at PhotoVoltaic - PV.


Solar sailor

The solar sailor pictured is a hybrid vessel with solar cells, battery, and diesel.

Winner of Australian Design Award of the Year 2001. This vessel is owned by SolarSailor as a test vessel and operated successfully commercially for ten years on Sydney Harbour under Captain Cook Cruises. Now operating in Newcastle Australia – available for charters and leasing.

Solar sailor

 (Click on pictures for source and more information.)

Solar cells

Solar power is seen as a form of additional energy supply to a vessel. Reason for this is the non-permanent availability of sun light and the current efficiency of solar cells. Back-up power is needed in case of a lack of available sunlight, like at night.

A condition for the use of solar cells is sufficient available deck space. Therefore solar power is most suitable for tankers, vehicle carriers and RoRo vessels. If an entire deck is covered with solar cells in combination with shipping in certain areas it may be possible to meet the energy demand of the auxiliary engine.

Nowadays only a few percent of the energy demand can be saved by applying solar cells. The following case of a Japanese car carrier can serve as an example for potential emission reduction. Between 0.2 and 3.75% can be saved when 40 kW of the auxiliary engines are replaced by solar cells. Investments costs for this specific case are estimated on 1.67 million USD. The current cost levels and the efficiency of solar cells make solar power score low on cost-effectiveness.



Planet solar

The world's largest solar powered boat from Monaco completed a round the world trip powered only by solar.

Concept of solar sails on a tanker or bulk cargo ship. May be more difficult on a container ship piled high with containers.

Further reading



Other pages on ship power:

Oil power  -

Wind power

Solar Power

Fuel Cell