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Australian business full steam ahead for solar on the open sea

20th Sep 2011

Australian ship builder Forgacs Engineering will partner with Solar Sailor - a marine-focused renewable energy technology company - to create a world first in unmanned ocean vessels (UOV).

A statement from Solar Sailor says that the Australian company was selected due to their excellent track record in the commercial shipping and Navy vessel sector.

The project will be a combined solar and wind powered UOV, designed to be able to cruise the oceans for an unlimited amount of time.

Robert Dane, chief executive officer of Solar Sailor has described the vessel as a "game changer."

Dane says: "Photovoltaic cells on the Solar Sail power all electronics such as steering, lighting, movement sensors and satellite communications."

Solar panels cover several surfaces of the ship, including the deck and wingsail - with some of the technology being used to power marine vessels in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Renewable energy is created via the propeller, with the sail utilising wind power for movement.

According to Dane: "This opens a whole new suite of capabilities and markets in highly-sensitive security or weather-risk areas, in military operations and coastal border protection with unauthorized maritime arrivals, oceanography and meteorology, and marine safety at sea."

No fossil fuels are required to operate as it is powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.

It also gives off zero carbon emissions, meaning that the boat can cruise for days at a time without impacting on the environment.

Tony Lobb, director of Forgacs says: "Navies and coastguards worldwide can enjoy limitless at-sea operation and vessel-monitoring from on-shore, without risk to crew safety, and with large, variable payload capacities at low capital cost, and low running costs without the need for on-board crew or renewing fossil fuels."

Solar Sailor believes that the vessel would be ideal for border protection, able to conduct monitoring operations at sea without the added expense and environmental impact of traditional boating technology.

Solar power systems are expected to be implemented into more and more devices, vehicles and dwellings over the coming years.

As solar technology increases in efficiency, flexibility and cost, their widespread applications will be fully realised in a number of everyday products and services.

Households can already take advantage of rooftop-installed solar panels which help generate electricity for use in the home as well as the added benefit of offsetting energy costs.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar Correspondent

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