Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Toyota introduces first cargo ship powered by solar

The Auriga Leader partially powered by 328 solar panels
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN / USA - Cargo ship, The Auriga Leader, currently docked at the Port of Long Beach, California, is part of a joint project between the Port of Long Beach, Toyota and Japanese shipping giant NYK Line. It is the first cargo ship of its kind to use solar energy to help fulfil many of the vessel's power needs, currently harnessing around 10 percent of its electricity from the panels.

A system supplying a quarter of the vessels electrical uptake was apparently perfectly feasible according to the on board engineer (circa 500Kw) but Toyota preferred to used this initial installation as a test-bed. Of particular concern was the likelihood of saline corrosion but this has, so far, proved groundless and all systems have initially functioned as hoped since commissioning in December 2008.

Brian Mason, national manager of marine logistics and export for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. "This is the first ship to direct the solar power into the ship's main electrical grid." In further works since the inception of the programme Toyota are believed to have used their expertise to upgrade the cell output. Some reports have them doubling or tripling the useable power flow.

The Auriga Leader is a 60,000-ton; seven story cargo ship which can carry more than 6,200 cars at a time, transporting Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles from Toyota factories in Japan to their 140 acre distribution site in Los Angeles. The ship's thrusters, hydraulics and steering gear will all receive power from the onboard solar panels.

The project is seen as a positive step in the right direction for the global shipping industry. Currently, emissions from cargo ships are a global concern, and a major source of air pollutants. Whereas Toyota have themselves made giant strides in reducing pollutants from vehicles the “Green Eye” is now starting to focus on shipping as well as air travel.                                       

Editors note: We’ve already had S.S. (steamship), M.V. (motor vessel) etc. What do we call this vessel type ? Answers to the blog please.