Some of the stuff we buy from China is so cheap, that I wonder how they manage to cover even the shipping costs for the selling price. Now China's biggest shipping company COSCO is giving us a clue. They just signed a deal with Solar Sailor of Australia, to fit some of their cargo ships with gigantic rigid sails, each the size of a 747 jet's wing. We've looked before at small scale versions of the same idea, but never anything this huge
Under ocean going conditions, the sails provide enough thrust to reduce fuel consumption by 20-40 percent, while the solar panels covering them deliver power to the crew quarters and navigation electronics. The ship's ballast is provided by rechargeable batteries, which can drive the boat electrically if needed, and if you have a really stiff wind, the screws can be reversed to further charge the batteries. The giant sails can also be folded flat onto the deck if there's a threatening storm.