Fuel costs, which are the single most important driver of marginal costs for marine transportation, account for almost 50% of total voyage costs for typical configurations and operational modes. Hence, operators and manufacturers of all classes of ships have developed a desire to embrace innovative ways to reduce the demand for fuels. The luxury yacht segment presents an attractive market for investigating and assessing the impacts of fuel-saving technologies because the large ships benefit from the fuel savings, have more flexible performance requirements and have owners who are more likely to embrace the required premiums for experimental technologies.

The paper, “Integrating renewable energy technologies to reduce large ship fuel consumption,” coauthored by Benjamin Gully, Michael Webber, Carolyn Seepersad, and Richard Thompson and presented at the ASME 2010 4th International Conference on Energy Sustainability (ES2010), May 17-22, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona, analyzes the effects of fitting such a yacht with a sail system, a solar panel system, and an energy storage system (ESS). Integrating a sail system to reduce propulsion loads provides significant benefit with respect to fuel economy. In contrast, the total amount of power provided by the solar panel system provides very little benefit, even when extensive deck paneling is used and panels are fit to rigid wing sails. Utilizing an ESS in the same manner as with a terrestrial hybrid vehicle to manipulate load distribution provides insignificant benefit for fuel consumption reduction, but seems to present opportunities for emissions reduction, which has played an increasingly important role in marine environmental concerns.

For more information, please contact Dr. Robert Hebner.

sail porportion

This sail proportion and solar panel distribution represents a notional yacht fitted with two 500 m2 sails and 1600 m2 of solar panels.

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