This electric cruise ship will use three giant retractable solar panels to power it at sea

On Wednesday, Norwegian cruise line company Hurtigruten revealed plans for a first-of-its-kind zero-emission ship. The electric-powered cruise ship will feature retractable sails with solar panels to harness energy from the wind and sun while storing it in powerful batteries.

Meet the most energy-efficient electric, solar cruise ship

Although only 0.1% of Hurtigruten Norway’s ships currently use zero-emission technology, the company is planning a drastic overhaul.

Its first concept, “Sea Zero,” is expected to be the world’s most energy-efficient cruise ship. The company initially revealed the project last March as part of its ambition to become a leader in sustainable travel.

Its first electric cruise ship, due out in 2030,will combine 60 MWh battery packs with several industry firsts to harness wind and solar while at sea for a truly zero-emission experience.

For example, the company plans to include three retractable, autonomous sails with added solar panels. The wing rigs are designed to enhance aerodynamics, pulling in air currents at up to 50 meters for added propulsion.

Hurtigruten says that during the summer, the ship “will be superpowered by northern Norway’s midnight sun that shines for 24 hours a day.”

The three retractable wings will comprise 1500 m² (16,146 ft²) of solar panels with a total wind surface of 750 m² (8,073 ft²).

Renewable energy from the sails or the charging port is stored in the ship’s giant 60 MWh battery storage system. There’s even an indicator on the side of the vessel to show the battery level. The company says it’s looking for cobalt-free battery chemistries with minimal nickel to keep costs down.

Enhancing energy efficiency

With dozens of sensors and cameras and AI maneuvering, the company says the size of the bridge can be slimmed down and set up like an airline cockpit.

The design enhances aerodynamics and gives guests more living space and areas to enjoy the views.

To reduce underwater drag, the two thrusters at the stern will retract into the hull while cruising. Meanwhile, the company is developing an underwater air lubrication system to allow the electric ship to “surf” on a carpet of bubbles.

Hurtigruten says its guests will play an integral role in reducing energy consumption with data-driven solutions allowing them to control and monitor energy use directly from their smartphones.

The electric solar-powered cruise ship concept is 443 feet long and is set to host 500 passengers across 270 cabins.

Sea Zero is still in its early stages of research and development as the Norwegian cruise line gears up for its launch by 2030. Over the next two years, the company will test and develop the proposed technology as it works toward a final design.

Currently, the focus is on battery production, propulsion technology, hull design, and other sustainable practices that can reduce energy consumption.

Hurtigruten says developing new tech for onboard hotel operations, which consumes up to 50% of the ship’s total energy use, will be critical to the ship’s success. The company aims for a 50% energy reduction compared to current models.


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