In the effort to find alternative ways of moving our ships around the oceans of the world with less - or without - fossil fuels , there have been many experiments, the most publicised being the German efforts to use high flying kites.
Eco Marine powered ship
But now a Japanese company has been coming up with some imaginative sail solutions, the most interesting of which is a retrofit for existing ships.
Well, they don't look much like sails as you and I know them, but it's a start...
Energy firm Eco Marine Power has developed rigid sails that are installed with solar models and the system, called The Aquarius, is able to collect both solar and wind energy to power already constructed ships.
Eco Marine Power have been developing the technology for large ships such as oil tankers, but believe it could also benefit smaller vessels such as passenger ferries, tourist boats and coastal freighters. The company also hope that global governments could also benefit from the technology on naval vessels.
The Eco Marine Power Aquarius System will allow ships to not only utilise wind power and solar energy, but reduce fuel consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It would enable shipping fleets the world over to reduce the CO2 footprint of their fleet.
The latest design made by Eco Marine allows the array of rigid sail panels to be controlled via an on-board computer system. It allows the solar sail panels to be optimized in order for the collection of either solar and wind energy in variable weather conditions.
However, their concepts for new ships wander into the fantastic:
For more information about this interesting company, go to their http://www.ecomarinepower.com!website