Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Green Ferries For Blue Highways

Fresh on the heels of solar-powered sun21's arrival in the Big Apple, New York-based ferry service Circle Line recently announced plans to update its Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island ferry with a solar-powered, hybrid trimaran vessel.

According to published reports, a focal point of Circle Line’s bid for the renewal of its contract with the National Park Service (who manage the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island) is the Miss Statue of Liberty. The 115-foot vessel would hold 600 passengers (she’s got a 42-foot beam) and is based on an existing ferry built by Australia’s Solar Sailor; Sydney’s harbor boasts an 80-passenger sightseeing vessel (built by Solar Sailor) that utilizes solar technology that’s been in service since 2000.

Some of the Miss Statue of Liberty’s features include: a 23- by 50-foot solar “wing” that captures sun and wind and is computer-controlled for optimum sun-wind capture; two bow thrusters and a total of seven bow, midship, and stern thrusters for close-quarters maneuvering and on- and offloading passengers; and twin diesel engines capable of burning low-sulfur fuel. In addition, the solar wing can mechanically fold down in high winds—in this guise, its photovoltaic panels are still active and it also serves as a hardtop to shade seating on her top deck. Top speed is said to be between 10 and 12 knots (up to 6 knots on solar-wind power alone), with construction costs estimated at $8 million dollars.

San Francisco’s Alcatraz Cruises is also planning to introduce a solar-powered Solar Sailor-built vessel on its route.

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