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Solar-powered ferries to sail Hong Kong harbour

Hybrid ferries are part of eco-drive to make the city more environmentally conscious.



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Updated on 28 Oct 2009 09:12 GMT

Hong Kong waters will soon be home to four more solar-powered hybrid ferries being built by a local shipyard using Australian firm Solar Sailor Holding’s design and expertise.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club purchased the vessels as part of a US$45 million drive to make the city more environmentally conscious, and to prove that green technology makes good business sense. Hong Kong company Leung Wan Kee Shipyard is building the 100-passenger ferries in Zhuhai.

Sydney-based Solar Sailor is a technology company which supplies patented "Solarsails" which harness renewable solar and wind energy and Hybrid Marine Power (HMP), an integrated hybrid electric solar system.

The company's technology is suitable for a wide range of applications from small unmanned vessels to large tankers, including ferries, tourist cruisers and private yachts. The technology offers redundancy of power, fuel efficiency, low environmental footprint, passenger comfort, and zero emission / stealth mode.

Three of the new Hong Kong catamaran ferries will use solar panels, and a fourth will be outfitted with the unique sails. They will be put to work ferrying golfers to the Jockey Club’s public golf course on Kau Sai Chau Island.

“We really would like people to think of us as more of an enabler. We see a technology that’s thriving. But purely from a commercial standpoint, someone has to take a first step. And this is where we believe we have a role to play as far as the Hong Kong community is concerned,” said William Yiu, Executive Director, Charities at The Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Robert Dane, CEO and founder of Solar Sailor said the company’s technology is competing with “the incumbent industry, which has had 100 years to build up economies of scale. And so hybrid electric solar ferries have got to come in over five to 10 years, and be as good or better than the existing technology. Companies like the Hong Kong Jockey Club that show leadership and invest in this sort of technology really help get the economies of scale up.”






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