The first commercial marine vessel to be powered by solar and wind energy was launched at Jervis Bay, Australia recently. The craft is scheduled to begin cruise operations in the Sydney harbour area throughout the Sydney 2000 Olympic Green Games. An earlier prototype has demonstrated, reasonably well, the speed, versatility and reliability of 'solar sailing'. The major achievement of Solar Sailor Holdings, the company that constructed the craft, is their ability to limit noise and air pollution to reasonable levels, besides making it totally clean in the water. The commercial variant is 21 m long and 10 m wide and will carry 110 passengers. The craft, weighing 21 tonnes, will be powered by four sources: wind, solar, battery and liquefied petroleum gas and can run at a combined speed of 11 knots. The operators and mariners require no new skills as the hulls, batteries, motors and computers are all standard technology. A Windows NT-based control system coordinates power management.
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