Vehicle carrier the M/V Auriga Leader, built in 2008, is the first solar power-propelled cargo ship of the world. The 656-foot Auriga Leader, a pure car truck carrier (PCTC), won the Ship of the Year Award at the Lloyd’s List Global Awards 2009. The ship weighing 60,213 gross tons features 328 solar panels that are used for running its propulsion system. The panels provide 0.05% of propulsion power of the ship and 1% of electricity required for lighting and pumping. The panels will bring down annual CO2 emissions by about 40 tons and fuel consumption by 13 tons, ensuring sizeable cost savings. The solar panels are not fixed on the ship to protect them from vibrations, wind pressure, salt-water erosion and other sea related factors. The panels are installed on car transport of the vessel, which can accommodate 6,400 vehicles.
Between December 19, 2008- the day of its maiden voyage and July 12 2009, the solar panel system of vessel produced 32,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity that equals to electricity consumed by 17 Japanese households in seven months. The electricity generated is 1.4 times higher than that was produced on land in Tokyo. The ship has successfully survived rough conditions- continuous lightning and rain, 3-4 meter high waves and strong winds.
Initially, the ship, a joint venture of Nippon Oil Corporation and Nippon Yusen K.K, will transport vehicles manufactured by Toyota Motor Corp, the leading Japanese automaker. By 2010, Nippon Yusen planned to reduce its carbon dioxide emission and fuel consumption to 50%.
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