K Line, solar and sustainable ship

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Solar K-line

Source: Solar Frontier

Solar Frontier envisions a low environmental impact ship powered also by solar panels as green  transport solution for the sea.

For millennials before the advent of coal and later oil powered engines ships relied on wind power to sail along the seas. The advent fossil fuels freed ships from the unpredictability of wind, however in times of heavy pollution and fears of global warming the need to reduce carbon footprint concerns also the naval sector. While wind is an already known clean source of capable of generating power and to move ships, but recently also solar power can give its contribution.

Copper indium gallium selenide solar cell (CIS) solar panels provided by Japanese company Solar Frontier have been recently installed by Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (“K Line”), one of Japan’s largest shipping companies, on one of its newest vessels, in order to make it one of the newest environmentally friendly transport ships, a car carrier called Drive Green Highway. The ship, first of a series of eight similar vessels, is part of  K Line’s Drive Green Project and was launched in February 2016, weights 76,387 tons can carry up to  20,034 tons, measures 200 m in length and 37,5 m in width, 38,23m in depth, can reach a speed of 20 knots and, being a vehicle transport ship, is capable of transporting up to 7,500 units.

Being a ship powered with solar energy, more than 900 CIS solar panels have been provided by Solar Frontier covering the ship’s top deck. They are capable of generating 150 kW of capacity and power all of the vessel’s LED lighting. According to Solar frontier, CIS panels have been favored over crystalline silicon solar panels because of their higher electricity yield generated and its higher efficiency in an environment such as the ocean, characterized by hot temperatures.

Besides solar panels on the top deck, other solutions have been developed to reduce the ship’s environmental impact. Ships are the transportation modes with the lowest environmental impact, when compared, with railway, aircraft and motor vehicles, but its exhaust gases released by its diesel engines like sulfur oxide (SOx) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) responsible of photochemical smog and acid rain, and carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes global warming. Efforts have been made to improve the hull design to reduce wind resistance and the energy saving technology in order to obtain a 25% CO2 emissions reduction compared to ordinary ships.

Projects of like these ships are a good example, albeit this time on a grandiose scale, how emissions reduction for transport vehicles can be achieved through several measures ranging from use renewables energies to improvement of materials and energy efficiency.


Writer: Edoardo De Silva, junior consultant at TRT Trasporti & Territorio

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