Solar assisted power 2

By Keith Henderson at June 09, 2011 06:54
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Over a year ago we reported on the halfway mark of the two-year experiment on  the solar-power assisted MS Auriga Leader  Car & Truck Carrier of  60,213 GT., jointly developed by NYK and Nippon Oil Corporation.

She’s equipped with 328 solar panels to provide a contribution of 0.05 per cent of the ship’s propulsion needs and one per cent of the electrical hotel needs such as pumps, cabin lighting, kitchen power etc: at Lloyd's List 2009 Global Awards the Auriga Leader received the title of "Ship of the Year".

Caption: View of the 328 solar panels on the MS Auriga Leader
Image credit: NYK Line

Now that the two year period has elapsed, findings on the experiment have been released. Despite early optimistic results, sadly the conclusion is disappointing. The tests have shown that providing a stable power supply from the photovoltaic panels is difficult because even a slight change in the weather has a significant influence on the amount of power generated. It was also found that attempting to make the solar power system bigger to gain more output and to increase its dependency could result in problems with regard to stable operations due to fluctuations in the power supply.

NYK has not however lost hope and is persevering together with Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), the Monohakobi Technology Institute (MTI) and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Class NK). They are initiating further tests starting June 2011, to verify the effects of a new jointly developed hybrid power supply system which they believe will improve the effectiveness of the solar generation on board vessels.


Caption: Block diagram of the hybrid power supply system. Note the block in the top right showing the newly developed areas.
Image credit: NYK, MTI, ClassNK, KHI

KHI has been working to develop a hybrid power supply system for vessels through the use of its self-developed large nickel hydrogen batteries known as Gigacell®  and ClassNK is supporting these projects as part of assistance provided through a joint research scheme based on industry demands. The  hybrid power supply system will control the fluctuating output of the solar panels and diesel generator to deliver a  stabilized the supply to the vessel’s electrical power system.

The aim of the test remains achieving a stable power supply under harsh marine conditions through the combination of solar power generation using the hybrid power supply system. Based on the experiment results, NYK Line and MTI will aim to develop an even larger solar power generation system for vessels, while KHI will seek to commercialize the hybrid power supply system for vessels.

Caption: Prototype of hybrid power supply system
Image credit: NYK, MTI, ClassNK, KHI

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