Nature and Biodiversity

These solar sails are powering a cruise ship

People stand on the world's largest solar-powered boat in Cancun December 8, 2010. The Turanor Planet Solar arrived in Cancun on December 6 as part of its expedition around the globe and as climate talks are underway in the beach resort. The world's governments struggled on Wednesday to break a deadlock between rich and poor nations on steps to fight global warming and avert a new, damaging setback after they failed to agree a U.N. treaty last year in Copenhagen.    REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia (MEXICO - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY ENERGY BUSINESS) - GM1E6C90O4S01

This futuristic cruise ship will be able to carry 2,000 passengers per trip within its 750 cabins. Image: REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia

Desirée Kaplan
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The cruise ship industry is at an all-time high with millions of passengers booking trips every year, but is it a sustainable way to travel? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cruise ships can carry about 3,000 people per trip. Unsurprisingly, with more than 230 cruise ships operating around the world, the industry has started to leave behind a significant amount of waste in its wake.

One company, Peace Boat, has taken on the monumental challenge of creating a low carbon cruise ship. The team is bringing to life the Ecoship which blends together technology and sustainability in its design. This futuristic cruise ship will be able to carry 2,000 passengers per trip within its 750 cabins. The ship is expected to dock at about 100 ports annually and serve as a vessel to spread awareness about environmental sustainability around the world.

Image: GreenMatters

One of the most striking aspects of the ship’s design is the ten retractable wind generators and ten retractable photovoltaic sails perched on top of the giant vessel. The sails will produce up to ten percent of the propulsion power. Meanwhile, the wind turbines will be able to power about 30 percent of the ship’s energy while in port.

Image: GreenMatters

The Ecoship also incorporates solar panels which are expected to power 100 percent of the lighting needs for the cabins and exteriors. These thought out design details allows the Ecoship produce 40 percent fewer carbon emissions than other ships.

At the center of the vessel will be the “plant kingdom” which will operate as the heart and lungs of the Ecoship. Four green towers were designed to absorb excess water and take advantage of compost from organic waste produced on the ship to create a closed loop water system. There will also be a garden which will span across five decks. Apart from a green and calming backdrop, these plants have a dual purpose as they will also produce vegetables for people on the ship.

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Peace Boat has been operating for 30 plus years as an organization focused on promoting environmental education through programs and responsible travel. As a company which strives to offer a more eco-friendly way to travel, it made sense for the group to create a sustainable cruise ship. Apart from educational programs, the Ecoship will also be a center for conducting ocean, climate, and green marine technology research. It will also serve as a platform to host green initiative conferences.

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Peace Boat director and founder Yoshioka Tatsuya commented on this development saying, “We believe this ship will be a game changer for the shipping industry and will contribute to the protection of the environment. It will be a flagship for climate change.”

It took the team three years to create this radical design after seeking help from specialists in various fields. From experts in renewable energy to naval architecture to biophilia, this unique cruise ship is the product of a wide range of design input. The Ecoship was designed to set a new low carbon standard in the cruise ship industry and aims to become a new model for other designers in the industry. The ship is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

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