OCIUS - SolarSailor Technology

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The Australian company OCIUS has been designing and supplying their patented SolarSailor and Hybrid Marine Power technology since 1999. Their technology has applications on tankers, commercial ferries, private yachts and unmanned surveillance drones.

Proving their potential emission reduction capabilities the New York City Department of City Planning in their World Cities Best Practises – Innovations in Transport included OCIUS’s solar-electric-diesel-wind hybrid technology in their recommendations.

As of 2014, OCIUS has had greater success in implementing their technology on commercial ferries and private yachts, with contracts in Australia, Hong Kong and China, however there exists many opportunities for their technology to be rolled out on larger bulk carriers for example.

OCIUS reckons hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, could potentially be saved annually by shipping companies through harvesting energy for bulk shipping from the wind. Solar Sailor’s idea is to have rigid wing sails that open up from a tiny wing into a much larger wing effectively doubling or quadrupling that area. The masts may also be folded down onto the deck of the vessel where it sits flush with the opening of the cargo hulls. This concept may be retrofitted to existing vessels, and stows away neatly with minimal hull penetration.

Using their specialised software the company estimates that commercial shipping operators could save between $296,000 to $473,000 on a return Los Angeles to Shanghai voyage.

ocius1While the company has had great success in delivering their applications on small to medium sea crafts such as the world’s first parallel hybrid electric solar ferry service to the Hong Kong Jockey club (which offers a 50% reductions on emissions in comparison to the ferries of the time) applications to larger freight vessels have been much slower at this time.

The company had hit its stride in 2008, having inked an agreement with Cosco, China’s biggest shipping company to retrofit giant solar sails to some of Cosco’s tanker ships. The solar wings would be almost 115 ft. long, and early SolarSailor estimates had Cosco recuperating their costs within 4 years. Unfortunately for the company COSCO have since decided not to continue, illustrating perhaps the difficulties of implementing green energy designs into the shipping industry.

Current green technology applications in cargo shipping is being led by the Japanese company NYK Line, who in 2008 launched the world’s first cargo ship partly run on solar power, the M/V Auriga Leader. With 328 solar panels covering its upper deck, the ship produces enough electricity to continuously power 10 homes and can be used to transport 6,400 cars at a time. Though the ship still primarily relies on bunker fuel, it’s a step towards the company’s goal of zero emissions by 2050.

To work towards this goal, NYK Line has designed the concept ship NYK Super Eco Ship 2030 (below) as a milestone for 2030. The idea behind the concept is not only to make it clear what the industry needs to develop technically in the long term, but also to lead the development of shipping operations, including cargo handling and traffic infrastructure.

The concept ship is being developed in collaboration with Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI), Elomatic, a marine consulting company from Finland, and Garroni Progetti S.r.l., a ship designer from Italy.

To help lower emissions to the target of 69% the ship would be powered by 9MW of solar panels covering the entire topside  cargo area, retractable sails between each cargo bay and modular LNG fuel cells, the ships main power source. 


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