Japan's First Solar Cargo Ship
The project was conceived before the global economic crisis, which has forced automakers to drastically cut production as sales dwindle. Company officials said the 60,213-tonne, 200m long ship is the first large vessel in the world with a solar-based propulsion system. So far solar energy has been limited to supporting lighting and crew's living quarters. The solar power system can generate 40 kilowatts, which would initially cover only 0.2 per cent of the ship's energy consumption for propulsion, but company officials said they hoped to raise the ratio.The shipping industry has come under growing pressure to take part in efforts to curb global warming, which is blamed on carbon emissions. Estimates say maritime transport accounts for anything from 1.4 per cent to 4.5 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. But the industry remains largely unregulated due to its international nature. Nippon Yusen, Japan's largest shipping company , has set a goal of halving its fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions by 2010.