When ships and boats switch to renewables - Green Ecologist

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Electric boats with renewables

The feeling that the renewable sector is mainly applied to buildings or land transport (The famous electric car) is widespread, but other less well-known sectors such as Marine transport They could have a high positive impact on the environment if they generally change the type of traditional fuel they use, fossil, for more hybrid boats,electric boats to 100% or large ships that are powered by renewable energy.

It must be recognized that maritime transport is considered one of the cheapest modes of transporting different goods around the world, so it is understood that the growth of this sector on the economy is positive, but in reality this growth trend is weighing on an increase in greenhouse gases (GHG), atmospheric or acoustic pollution.

Even if new technologies are appearing to improve the qualities of ships facing the environment; alternative propulsion systems based on the wind, new materials for their structures or hulls (even recycled), antifouling systems for boats (corrosion prevention and maintenance facilities) and more resistant paints that extend the life of ships and boats. There is still a lot to achieve as we can see throughout the article.

Why Ships Should Switch To Renewables

According to data from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Maritime transport accounts for emissions of around 1 billion tons of CO2 per year (Around 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions)

Emissions are predicted to increase between 50% - 250% by 2050, depending on future energy and economic developments. As we can verify in the following graphs:

This is not consistent with the internationally agreed target to keep global temperature rise below 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels, where global emissions are required to be cut at least in half from 1990 levels. by 2050.

According to estimates, ship power consumption and CO2 emissions in the field of maritime transport could be reduced by up to 75% by applying coherent operational measures and technologies that already exist.

So now we have to see what the proposals are and examples of ships and vessels that are favoring the use of alternative energies and less polluting in order to contextualize the issue we are dealing with today.

The first ship with renewables to go around the world

It was a milestone within the Maritime navigation and it happened around 2012. The project Planet Solar became the first solar electric boat to go around the world with the Swiss flag and thanks to the ingenuity of a businessman named Raphael Domjan.

It had a solar catchment area of 537 square meters, a speed of about 8 constant knots and the possibility of sailing for up to 3 days without receiving any ray of sunlight. Back then an impressive feat!

Now, not only the buyers or users themselves require less spending on fuel and more "ecological" boats, but also from the legislation "tighten the nuts" such as the new environmental guidelines applicable from 2022 by which, in certain areas navigation, where ships must have a sulfur content of less than 0.1% in their fuel, a fact that will make it significantly more expensive.

The first electric yacht

The luxury navigation sector also wants to respect the environment, although a little late, it is expected that by this next year they will already be able to enjoy the first electric yacht of history.

Under the Dasher name, luxury is reinvented with this runabout that leaves fossil fuel behind in favor of a fully electric propulsion system (The yacht is powered by two Deep Blue 80i 1800 electric motors).

It will be one of the lighter yachts for sailing with an epoxy resin fiber composite hull - carbon, a handcrafted deck in teak material, which in this case, is actually an epoxy composite hand painted to look like varnished teak, with ssystems of detecting the appearance of corrosion such as cathodic protection to avoid corrosion in boats that will extend the life of the pampering or a lightweight titanium alloy for the console, aspects that together offer much less weight, maintenance and greater improved sustainability.

The Renewable Powered Vessel That Is Autonomous

Although this project will not see the light of day until 2022 officially, it aims to be a revolution in the shipping industry, firstly because it will be a large ship that uses only renewable energy and secondly, because it will be totally autonomous, that is, not You will need not a single human on board (Regularly they need about 25 people) to make your lengths along the oceans.

Although this year it will begin to take its steps with 3 crew members who will check all the possibilities and capacities of the ship, the forecasts are that by 2022 it will already work autonomously and with energy savings according to estimates of 90%.

Significant energy savings and new navigation systems that will require fewer operators but that is undoubtedly in an economic debate (The ship costs 2 times more to manufacture than a conventional one) and a social debate that already affects many sectors on jobs that will cease to exist.

How to switch a ship from fossil fuels to renewable

Within our curiosity we wonder if it would be possible to transform a recreational setting that uses fossil fuels to use solar energy to move through the sea.

Although the information that we may have on the Internet is quite limited and apparently not many manufacturers provide technical solutions, we have found a document of interest for those who may be a little curious.

Roadmap in the transition and calculations to take into account:

The previous diagram belongs to a Final Degree project by the Barcelona Nautical Faculty called «Guide for the application of solar energy as a renewable energy alternative in pleasure boats»(Made by Óscar López Sánchez). A guide document that we find of interest to those who want to be more environmentally conscious sailors.

Article written in collaboration with Sergio W. Smit, specialist consultant in nautical tourism and water sports.

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