The transportation wave of the future will include solar-powered ferries with special sunshine-grabbing sails. The first of these "green ferries" in America could be launched in New York Harbor by Circle Line, which has partnered with an Australian shipbuilder to build an $8 million 115-foot hybrid trimaran ferry for its Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island route.
The wing is covered with ray-absorbing reflective-glass panels and it measures 50 by 23 feet. Like a large sail, the wing is rotated into position to capture maximum sun and wind-generated energy. The vessels can reach speeds of 10 to 13 knots, the same maximum speed as conventional ferries.
Even on a cloudy day, enough energy is generated to charge the vessel's main batteries and keep the boat running, including its plasma TVs. While the vessel will cost about $2 million more than traditional ferries, it burns one-third less fuel providing substantial savings. Its "low-wake" design is also environmentally friendly, creating smaller waves and lessening erosion of bulkheads and wetlands. The boat's two diesel engines would burn only low-sulfur fuel, producing almost zero emissions.