Described as "possibly the greatest evolution in boats since the advent of steam," an ingenuously simple concept that combines sun and wind power with sophisticated computer systems is set to transform the future of navigation.
Solar sailing -- the idea of using solar and wind energy to propel ships -- can cut a ship's fuel costs by up to 90 percent and significantly lower its environmental impact. The new technology, which is already used in Sydney Harbor, can be applied to everything from cruise ships to 500,000-tonne water transport tankers and small unmanned military vessels.
The concept is the brainchild of Robert Dane, an Australian doctor from the small fishing town of Ulladulla in New South Wales. A keen sailor and rower, Dane was watching a solar-powered boat race in Canberra in 1996 and noted that the winning boat used a solar panel inclined towards the sun. The only problem was that as the wind grew stronger the panel became a hazard and had to be pulled down. Read full article »