Life cycle assessment and economic benefits of a solar assisted short route ferry operating in the Strait of Messina

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The aim of this research is to determine the commercial and environmental attractivity of solar panels applied to ships. In this case, a 40 m short route ferry is converted to a solar-electric operating in the Strait of Messina. The powering configuration of the ship is modelled, and a simulation is run using MATLAB. Finally, after the results were found, the solar-electric ship's powering costs and environmental impact using the Life Cycle Assessment method with the help of GaBi, were compared to a fully electric and a diesel alternative. GaBi is a very useful software to perform LCAs as it provides a very large database on various product’s emissions which can be modulated depending on their quantity. The results were encouraging as approximately 400,000 € were saved when using solar panels compared to only electricity and 500,000 € when comparing to diesel. Moreover, an observable reduction in the emissions in the solar-electric alternative. Remarkably, the electricity in the national grid produces a non-negligible impact on the environment. Therefore, any device which produces zero emissions but is powered by electricity coming from the national grid like an electric car is far from being emissions-free. On the other hand, the electricity coming from solar panels is close to being totally green and should all the electricity be coming from them if future advances on this technology are made, then the vehicle can be considered eco-friendly. The numerous advantages of solar panels in short route ferries observed in this research could lead to the replacement of the traditional oil powered ferried creating a huge positive impact on the environment. When looking at the future, some thought should be given the recycling of solar panels in order to stop our impact on the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-38
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of International Maritime Safety, Environmental Affairs, and Shipping
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • life cycle assessment
  • economic benefits
  • solar assisted
  • short route ferry
  • Strait of Messina

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