The irruption of renewable energies in maritime transport, one of the main contributors to air pollution, is increasingly close to becoming a reality. At least that’s what emerges from the progress of an ambitious project led by the Japanese company Eco Marine Power (EMP), which plans to test what could become the first cargo ship integrating solar and wind energy. If all goes well, the company is aiming for 2018 to start the global deployment of its technology.
More precisely, the innovation in which the company works is Aquarius MRE, an advanced system of rigid sails, marine solar panels, energy storage modules and computers. All of this will allow ships to take advantage of renewable energies and reduce their carbon footprint, capture and store the energy of the wind and the sun. This equipment, which can be kept in service when the ship is at anchor or in port, can be configured with a mix of sensors, photovoltaic panels and other power generators.
This technology can be incorporated into any type of boat, both existing and in design. In addition, although it is designed with large ships in mind, the truth is that it will be adaptable to practically any model, such as ships for the maritime transport of goods, small passenger ferries or tourist boats. .
The innovation proposed by the company, which would save up to 40% fuel and thus significantly reduce emissions, is accompanied by its implementation with a large ship in what has been called project Aquarius ecological vessel.
At the end of July, the company announced that it was practically ready to start Aquarius MRE tests, needed to keep moving towards the first freight ship with integrated solar and wind energy collection and storage.
To get to this point, feasibility studies are underway on three large vessels -Belgrano, Nord Gemini and Bulk Chile-, in which onboard tests will be carried out, in addition to taking data. This will help determine aspects such as how much power this technology can deliver and how large solar installations could grow.
Once the study is completed, one of the vessels will be selected to start the test phase of the system, which will last between a year and a year and a half. At the end of this period, and if the results correspond to the expectations generated by this technology, the reduction of the carbon footprint of the maritime transport sector may be closer.