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Do you want to know how solar energy helps to power large ships? Can solar panels power high energy consuming equipment? Yes. Now it can. Technology and engineering have seen major improvements since the concept of clean energy came into play.

Currently, there are over a dozen ways through which solar energy is used to help us go greener. But, before we get into that, let’s talk about solar energy and all the promises it holds.


Solar energy refers to the radiated heat and light energy that we get from the sun. Our star has been burning for over 4.603 billion years, according to scientists.

Throughout this period it has continually supplied heat and light to the planets and other bodies in our solar system. Its heat is responsible for our planet’s temperature which, in turn, supports life. Its light helps us to see.

However, there’s an aspect of Solar energy that a lot of people don’t realize- solar energy is indirectly responsible for almost every other form of energy we have on our planet today. Wind energy is as a result of the uneven heating of the earth by the sun.

As the air becomes heated to varying temperatures, it moves to circulate the heat by convection. Chemical energy, the energy that runs through our bodies, also comes from the sun. Plants use the sun’s energy to make food through photosynthesis.

This food is chemical energy. Humans and animals feed on plants to obtain that same chemical energy. Winds are responsible for waves- tidal energy. And don’t forget that these winds are sponsored by solar energy.

Considering how the sun is an inexhaustible source of energy, it is only wise of humans to learn how to maximize our use of it. In the drive for clean energy from leaders around the world, solar energy has taken a predominant place.

It’s prospects are amazing. In 2000, during the United Nations Development Programme, World Energy Assessment discovered that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 exajoules (EJ).

This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012. Because of this, so much research has been poured into developing solar energy harnessing technology over the years.

Currently, there are quite a number of them, including Photovoltaics, solar heating and so much more. However, in this post, I’ll be focusing on the approach some marine vessels have made towards maximizing solar energy and minimizing fossil fuel use.


Ship with rigid sails and solar panels

In April 2020, at Onomichi Marine Test Center in Japan, Eco Marine Power unveiled EnergySail system. The System comprises of rectangular, slightly curved ‘sails’ that allow for  wind propulsion of the ship. Marine grade solar panels line these rigid sails, thus providing electricity for lighting and equipment onboard.

Including these energy sources take the weight off diesel engines. These solar panels can produce up to 1kW at peak solar energy, thus allowing for energy savings of up to 15%. Its design makes it flexible enough to function on Ro-ro ships, tug boats, oil tankers, passenger ships, survey ships, general cargo ships and even unmanned surface vessels.

Whilst at port, these vessels will have no need for diesel engines as the solar panels supplies all the necessary running energy. While at sea, the rigid sails can be moved via software to trap wind more efficiently.

Ecomarine is leading in the development of clean marine energy. Who knows, we’ll soon have solar energy cars on our streets. What do you think of this ingenuity? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES, Solar Energy, Wind and Solar Marine Power

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