Japan to Shape the World’s First Solar Cogenerating Cargo Ship

So what exactly is ‘Solar Cogeneration Power’? That is probably something that we should clear out first and foremost before getting in to the meat of the matter. It is quite simple actually and it just means that solar power will help power the engine to a partial extent. Why are we so bothered about that one little term when we have such a huge story unfolding before us? Simply because it very cleverly hides the fact that this Solar Powered Cargo ship will probably be powered by solar energy to a very little extent. I would be surprised if it was even 10% of the total power required to power a cargo ship.

According to a report in New Scientist, Japan's biggest shipping line Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corp said that solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity each would be placed on top of a 60,000-tonne car carrier to be used by Toyota Motor Corporation.

The solar panels would help conserve up to 6.5 per cent of the fuel used in powering the diesel engines that generate electricity aboard the ships.

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

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

Solar panels capable of generating several kilowatts of electricity have been used on large vessels before, but their use has been limited to power for the crew's living quarters.

Solar panels for an average home usually generate 3.5 kW of electricity.

Damage to the panels from salt and vibration are hurdles that remain to be overcome. The ship is scheduled to be completed in December.

According to Nippon Oil executive vice president Ikutoshi Matsumura, "If it's possible, we want to aim for the full commercialization of the system in the next three to five years."