We’ve already looked at the how the power of the sun is used to fuel the factory where Prius is made and to keep it cool on a hot day. But news from America this week has alerted us to how solar power is helping reduce the environmental impact of shipping the hybrid cars across the Pacific.
The Auriga Leader, the world’s first car carrier to use solar power, has docked for the first time in Long Beach, California, loaded with Prius and other Toyota and Lexus models exported to the North American market from Kobe, Japan.
The top deck of the ship is fitted with 328 photovoltaic solar panels that can generate up to 40 kilowatts of electrical power, reducing demand on the diesel engines and thus cutting emissions and fuel costs.
The technology is being demonstrated in a joint project by Toyota and NYK Line, the ship’s owner and operator. By 2010, NYK Line aims to halve its car carrier energy consumption through a combination of green-focused measures including solar power, redesigned hulls for its ships, propulsion systems and improved shipping operations and cargo handling.
The 60,000-ton (54,400-tonne) vessel is 656 feet (200 metres) long and can carry up to 6,200 cars. Launched in December last year, it is a joint venture by NYK Line and Nippon Oil Corporation.