Published on September 21st, 2012 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg4
Can Solar-Powered Sailing Ships Open Up Ocean-Based Commerce?
Just over a week ago, we took a look at a handful of companies using (or thinking about using) sail-powered ships to transport raw materials and/or products. While sails can help these small companies in the developed world lower their carbon footprint, in the developing world, simpler forms of shipping could open up whole worlds of economic opportunity… and with marginal environmental impact, if done right. The creators of the Greenheart Project are trying to accomplish those latter goals with the development of a simply-designed, sail and solar-powered ship created specifically for use by some of the world’s poorest people.
Sounds kind of like toy for rich folks, right? That could’ve been the case, but the designers spent several years researching their concept to ensure it really served poor communities by making it affordable to build and operate. Obviously, solar and sail power requires no fuel, so that’s a good start. The Greenheart is designed to incorporate readily-available materials, so that’s another point in its favor. One of the coolest aspects: it can “dock” on beaches, so communities without ports can still use it to buy and sell in the larger global market.
Want to see this innovative concept? Check out Greenheart’s pitch video at Indiegogo:
Yes, they’re raising funds – the design is complete (and openly available), so now they want to build one and sail it around the world to demonstrate the viability of the technology. They’re looking to raise $120,000 in the next 41 days.
I’m impressed with the level of thought that’s gone into this project: the folks at Greenheart have considered environmental and economic impacts, and created a design that takes both fully into account. Still, I’m not a ship-builder – if you know more about the topic, and have thoughts on the design – or any other element of the project – share your thoughts with us.
Image credit: Screen capture from “Sail Away with Us for a Better World” video