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Earlier this year, the first hybrid solar bulk carrier was launched in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Marfin Management, operators of supramax dry cargo vessels, collaborated with Solbian Energie Alternative to design and install a solar energy system on the MS Paolo Topic, a bulk carrier under the management of Marfin.

The first challenge they faced was fitting the solar panels on the vessel without compromising the ship’s structure or its loading and offloading operations. To solve this problem, Marfin and Solbian contracted TGE S.R.L., an Italy-based company that specializes in designing solar plants. Subsequently, an innovative solution, in the form of a custom-made removable structure was created. The structure was built to integrate the solar energy from the panels with the electrical power generated by the 3 diesel generators on the ship.

The ship’s engines, batteries, and the energy generated from the solar panels are connected and designed to work seamlessly, with the entire system being controlled from a central Energy Management System. As a result, the fuel consumption level of MS Paolo Topic is expected to reduce significantly, leading to a similar decrease in maintenance expenses. Due to its better energy management, more efficient fuel consumption, and advanced environmental performance, the ship becomes the most technologically advanced bulk carrier in the world. Additionally, MS Paolo Topic will have better operation stability and efficiency levels should increase for all operation conditions, including loading and unloading.

According to Alex Albertini, Marfin’s CEO, the company had always been on the lookout for new technologies that improve the environmental performance of their fleet and ensure future sustainability. “We are pleased to have found like-minded partners to bring new technology and innovative thinking onboard…”, Albertini said. He went on to outline his company’s resolve to provide customers and partners with improved performance and environment-friendly practices without compromising on performance and operational effectiveness.
“With our unique technology, we are pleased to participate in an adventure with real impact capable to disrupt some fundamentals allowing for change (sic).” Luca Bonci, the CEO at Solbian EA S.R.L. was also quoted as saying.