August 27, 2008

Japan Planning for Solar-powered Ship

Two Japanese companies have announced plans to develop the world's first ship to be propelled by engines partially powered by solar energy.

Nipon Yusen KK, the country's largest shipping line, and Nippon Oil Corp hope to attach solar panels to the top of a 60,000 tonne car carrier to be used by Toyota Motor Corp.

Nippon Yusen will invest about 150 million yen ($1.4 million) in the solar panel system to be designed by Nippon Oil.

The solar panels will be capable of producing 40 kilowatts of electricity and help conserve up to 6.5 percent of fuel oil used in powering diesel engines.

The system is expected to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1-2 percent, or about 20 tonnes per year, said Hideyuki Dohi, general manager at Nippon Oil's energy system development department.

Solar panels have never been used to power anything on a large vessel apart from the crew's living quarters.

Developers will have to determine the best way to avoid damage to the panels from salt and vibration.

The ship is scheduled to be finished in December.

"If it's possible, we want to aim for the full commercialization of the system in the next three to five years," Nippon Oil Executive Vice

President Ikutoshi Matsumura told reporters.


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