The first sea-trials of “Solar Albatross” took place this month in Hong Kong of Solar Sailor’s 24 meter 100 passenger carrying catamaran ferry with its stow-able SolarSails.
After more than 10 years of development and hard work, Dr Robert Dane and his team have produced another solar sailing vessel, but this time it is the first that is a true commercial hybrid vessel propelled by wind power, solar power, stored electricity and fossil fuel.
The boat will enter service with the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Kai Sai Chau Golf Club, ferrying golf club patrons to and from their three island based 18 hole courses off Hong Kong Island.
For the Sydney, Australia based company, this is the 4th hybrid boat to enter service for the Club, but the first with SolarSails embedded with solar cells to collect the sun’s energy and use wind power too. The SolarSails stow flat on the roof of the boat when not in use, although they continue to collect solar energy from the sun and store it in batteries in the two hulls of the catamaran.
The sails are engineered and approved by DNV for 44 knots of apparent wind with a 100% safety factor. The sails can be feathered or lowered into a headwind. In early trials when “sailing” in a 15 knot true wind at 45 degrees off the bow give a 1.8knot increase in boat speed from 14.2 to 16 knots with no increase in engine rpm.
Sea-trials and fine tuning will continue over the next month.