Auriga Leader: Japan launches first solar cargo ship

auriga_leader_solar_shipThe world’s first large ship to partly use solar energy to help power engine-related devices took to the seas on Friday in Kobe, central Japan.

The Auriga Leader, a car freighter jointly developed  by Nippon Yusen (Japan’s largest shipping company) and Nippon Oil, has 328 solar panels on board, that produce 40 kilowatts of power. This is enough to generate about 0.3% of the energy needed for engine-based devices and about 7% of the electricity need for lighting and other purposes.

This doesn’t sound like much at first, but the ship is about 200 meters long and weighs more than 60,000 tons. The Auriga Leader will initially be used to transport Toyota cars to various overseas markets. 6,400 cars can be exported this way.

Nippon Yusen and Nippon Oil have invested a total of $1.68 million into the solar panel system.