Two companies are working to build an ocean vessel that sounds like it could have sailed straight out of a Jules Verne novel. SolarSailor, a renewable energy company and Forgacs Engineering, an Australian ship builder, have announced plans to build the first wind and solar powered Unmanned Ocean Vessel (UOV).
The vessel requires no fossil fuels to operate and gives off zero-emissions. Photovoltaic solar cells cover the stowable aerofoil type wingsail and much of the deck. The propeller is driven by an electric motor and is used in low-wind-conditions for manoeuvring, collision avoidance and stealth missions.
If successful, the new design is said to be a game-changer in the more than $2 billion UOV industry. Navy and Coast Guard branches currently use unmanned sea vessels for a variety of missions and monitoring. But these versions are only deployed for a few hours or days at a time and use fossil fuels stored onboard.
The licence agreement between the two companies combines SolarSailor’s UOV technology with Forgacs’ history in major Navy and commercial ship building. The announcement of the partnership was made at the Clean Energy Investment Symposium in Sydney Australia.