Japanese press ahead with solar shipping project

Japan’s Eco Marine Power (EMP) has begun to cooperate with compatriot F-WAVE to jointly develop integrated photovoltaic solar solutions for shipping. These solar power solutions will utilise F-WAVE’s shatter-proof and flexible PV technology combined with EMP’s extensive experience in developing ship-based solar power systems.

F-WAVE’s flexible solar cells use the unique series-connection through apertures formed on film structure allowing a wireless connection with the electrodes. This tandem construction also allows the flexible solar cells to absorb a wide solar spectrum. Additionally, the cells demonstrate high performance in hot weather due in part to the annealing effect, a heat treatment process which alters the microstructure of a material to change its mechanical or electrical properties as well as the system’s efficiency increases compared to the decrease that typically occurs with crystalline cells.

In addition to developing integrated solar solutions for shipping and maritime applications EMP will promote F-WAVE’s products globally so that they can be incorporated into newbuilding projects.

Commenting on the tie-up, Greg Atkinson, EMP’s chief technical officer, said that in the past five years his company had been studying solar solutions, many of the photovoltaic products EMP had studied had proven to be not suitable for use in a harsh marine environment for an extended period of time.

“The photovoltaic technology from F-WAVE has a unique and patented structure and this enables the solar panels to be robust, truly marine-grade and flexible enough so that they can be used in a variety of ways ranging from being mounted on decks to being horizontally mounted on our EnergySail and to the ship’s superstructure. We also believe that the use of this technology will lower installation costs and provide a cost-effective long term zero emission power source for ships,” Atkinson said.

In related solar news from Japan, Ricoh has just provided details of a new solar cell it has developed that it claims achieves a 20% higher maximum power output than current products.

The cell can operate both in sub-zero temperatures, and in higher temperatures and can generate electricity from room light or less.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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