Two plug-in hybrid tourist ferries powered by the wind and sun, augmented a diesel engine, will carry visitors to San Francisco’s Alcatraz island under a contract between the National Park Service and ferry operator Hornblower Cruises and Events, who is purchasing the ferries from the Australian company Solar Sailor. The hybrid vessels in the winning proposal by Hornblower were designed by Solar Sailor and modeled on the Solar Sailor ferry in service at Sydney, Australia (above).
The ferries will pollute less and get better mileage because they run on electricity much of the time. The new hybrid ferries will hold 600 passengers and capable of operating at 12 to 15 knots.
The ferries will have a large, rigid wing covered with solar panels that captures solar and wind power while also allowing sail navigation when conditions are right. In bad weather, the sail folds down flat above the deck like a roof. Batteries allow the diesel engines to be turned off at port, which means no smells or emissions at the boarding ramp. The vessels can also be plugged into an onshore power outlet to recharge the batteries.
The company's U.S. subsidiary, Unmanned Ocean Vehicles, has received a US Navy grant for the development of its patented unmanned ocean vehicles (UOV’s). The automated and networked UOV’s will be used for military and coast guard purposes, and have commercial and oceanographic applications including tsunami early warning systems. The US Navy is interested in the Unmanned Ocean Vehicles in order to meet their need for surveillance vessels to roam the world's oceans. The UOV's use of solar and wind power enables it to act as an autonomous vehicle with almost unlimited range and endurance.
For the prototype, the company is converting a 20-foot Fiberglas boat with 7 1/2-foot beam that will be fitted with computers and navigation software. Those will enable the craft to steer itself by using a GPS system and right itself in storms. The 17 1/2-foot-high sails, covered with solar panels, will give the boat a top speed of about 5 knots. Solar panels on the deck, combined with an electric generator attached to a propeller on the stern, will provide about 500 watts of power--more than enough to run electronic systems and sensors.
Former prime minister Bob Hawke, Chairman of Super Sailor proposed to the West Australian Government to use a fleet of three "aquatanker" ships (left) to transport 50 gigalitres (50 million tonnes) of water a year from the Kimberley region to Perth, meaning that 100 shipments a year would be required to meet Perth's requirement.
If the consortium's proposal is accepted by the West Australian Government, it plans to build three oil super tanker-sized ships to make the 10 day return runs from the Kimberley to Perth.
Robert Dane, the founder and CEO of Solar Sailor said that compared to the option of building desalination plants, canals or water pipelines, Dane believes that transporting massive volumes -- millions of tonnes -- of fresh water using fleets of 400-meter long aquatankers would be safer, most flexible and the least costly option. He estimates that a conventional tanker for this purpose would cost about $115 million (U.S.), with the solar/wind-hybrid design adding another $20 million to the final cost.
The idea of using Solar Sailor tankers in Australia has not been settled, but an independent study on transporting water apparently did not recommend this approach.
Thanks to Tyler of Clean Break for the tip.