Wind Assisted Ferry Boats

In the pretty cool idea category this week we have a Napa, CA based outfit with an idea for carbon-fiber sails on ferry boats to help cut fuel costs / CO2 release.


“They wouldn’t eliminate the need for an engine.

They could, however, cut each ferry’s fuel use by at least 40 percent, said Gardner, with Wind+Wing Technologies.”

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But beyond the cool factor is the actuality of companies beginning to take seriously sun, wind, conservation and costs.

In San Francisco, Hornblower Cruises & Events started shuttling tourists to Alcatraz last year aboard its Hornblower Hybrid, which uses solar panels and two small, vertical wind turbines to generate electricity.

Hornblower considered using sails but decided the solar panels and wind turbines would be more useful. Unlike a sail, they provide power even when the ferry isn’t moving, said Cameron Clark, the company’s director of environmental affairs.

“With a ferryboat, you spend the majority of your time sitting at the dock,” he said. “You sit for 30 minutes and sail for 15.”

Together, the panels and wind turbines generate about 5 kilowatts of electricity, enough to run the ship’s electrical systems. When tied up at dock, the engines shut off, saving fuel. Before Hornblower retrofitted the ferry, burned 20 to 26 gallons of diesel per hour, Clark said. Now it burns six.

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