Open-Source Sailing Ship Applies Wind and Solar Power
The Greenheart Project is modeled after tall sailing ships, but applies modern technology to potentially revolutionize shipping
Fuel costs represent 50-60 percent of ship operating costs, and a single supertransport emits more carbon pollution in a year than 5% of every car on the road in the world. Since people aren’t going to stop shipping goods any time soon, it’s up to our innovators to solve the fuel consumption problem. The Greenhouse Project is one such proposed solution.
Greenheart is an open-source, crowdsourced initiative to develop new kinds of vessels for shipping with the goal of designing low-cost ships powered by wind and solar to eliminate the cost and pollution of fossil-fuel shipping. In 2009, angel investors turned the project from an idea to an active organization and their first prototype design is nearing readiness for testing.
The S/V (Saving Vessel) Greenheart is not a large vessel. It’s capable of carrying at most 3 standard shipping containers, but the fuel savings make shipping on this smaller scale potentially profitable despite the lost efficiency. The key aspects of the design include:
- Sails styled after tall-ship-era designs but benefiting from modern improvements
- Solar panels across all decks to generate electricity from sun while underweigh
- Deep cycle lead action batteries that serve as ballast to prevent pollution of and by ballast water
- Shallow-draft hulls that open up undeveloped coastlines and river travel
Upon completion of the physical ship — anticipated in 2015 or 2016, she will undergo a shakedown cruise of 20 major ports over two years. This is to both test her seaworthiness and drive awareness of the vessel as an alternative option. The designers especially see the value of this smaller vessel for marginal nations or companies that lack access to the super-expensive super-transports and must instead rent space at premium prices.
Greenheart considers all of the ship specs and blueprints open source, then encourages other designers to improve upon them, and for any ship manufacturer to build using them.