Sydney's Solar Ferry

Solar Sailor

The Solar Sailor – the world’s largest solar vessel and the first to be totally powered by the wind and the sun – sailed for the first time into Sydney Harbor, Australia in June 2000. This revolutionary new ferry has been in service for over a year as a tourist ferry there. It has demonstrated the technical feasibility and commercial viability of this new hybrid power technology.

Solar Sailer is the brainchild of Dr. Robert Dane, formerly a country physician practicing about three hours from Sydney. A $1 million grant from the Australian Greenhouse Office’s Renewable Energy Commercialization Program funded its development.

Its ground breaking solar wing technology makes renewable energy transport a reality. The mounted wings harness the sun and wind and can be adjusted to adapt to prevailing weather conditions. It uses four power sources: solar, wind, battery and a backup LPG gas generator. They can be used individually or in combination. When fully loaded with 100 passengers it reaches speeds of 5-7 knots on solar power alone, and 10-12 knots sailing in trade winds.

Solar Sailor won the gold medal at the 1999 Asian Innovation Awards and the 2001 Australian Design Awards for engineering. With many waterways around the world banning the use of fossil-fueled boats, the boat has wide market potential.

Presently, it is in service as a ferry with Captain Cook Cruises, where it is popular with passengers for its smooth, quiet, odor-free ride as well as the ferry operator, because its operating costs are only 10 percent of a conventionally powered ferry of similar capacity. It is also the fastest ferry in the fleet!

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Comments on “Sydney's Solar Ferry”

  1. Ian Pettet

    I am interested in researching the whereabouts of the vessel and undertaking a Project Management essay as to its operational performance, the reason/s for it discontinuity from active service.


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