The winds of change blow for solar powered sailing
It’s been just two years since a fully solar-powered yacht, the TURANOR PlanetSolar, first circumnavigated the globe. And there are even greater and more exciting changes ahead for solar powered vessels. “Solar energy is already used to propel a few specialized leisure craft and the potential benefits of fully powering commercial vessels the same way are becoming ever more attractive,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, CEO of Canadian Solar.
The “Linxiu” combines both business and pleasure and is the only solar-powered motor yacht in Wuxi city, Jiangsu province, China. The luxury vessel is powered by a 7 kW PV system from Canadian Solar and features the company’s hard-wearing and highly efficient CS6P-P solar modules. Tourists take the boat to enjoy the sights of Lake Lihu and it is also used as a venue to host social and business events.
“It’s not just a good idea for environmental reasons,” said Dr. Qu. “The potential cost savings on fuel and operating costs are enormous. I believe it’s only a matter of time until we see solar power being applied to mainstream shipping,” he added.
Recent advances in the lightness, durability and efficiently of Canadian Solar photovoltaics make the products particularly attractive to the developing marine market. “There can be no doubt that solar power for marine use will become increasingly important in the future,” said Dr. Qu. “And we are looking at ways we can use our expertise and products to become a player in this specialised area,” he said.
Solar offers even greater potential when combined with another renewable, wind. Technologists in several countries are currently working on vessels that harness both solar and wind energy so that people can enjoy the best of both worlds.
“It’s the perfect combination,” said Dr. Qu of Canadian Solar. “You can’t guarantee you will have wind or sunshine on a given day, but the probability of having one or the other is high. And the great thing about solar is that it allows you to charge batteries on the vessel that will give, say, a 72-hour energy reserve for those times when there is neither sun nor wind.”