In a small, rustic shipyard on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, a small team is building the world’s largest ocean-going clean cargo ship.
Ceiba is the first vessel built by Sail Cargo, a company trying to prove that zero-carbon shipping is possible, and commercially viable. Made largely of timber, Ceiba combines both very old and very new technology: sailing masts stand alongside solar panels, a uniquely designed electric engine and batteries. Once on the water, she will be capable of crossing oceans entirely without the use of fossil fuels.
“The thing that sets Ceiba apart is the fact that she’ll have one of the largest marine electric engines of her kind in the world,” Danielle Doggett, managing director and cofounder of Sail Cargo, tells me as we shelter from the hot sun below her treehouse office at the shipyard. The system also has the means to capture energy from underwater propellers as well as solar power, so electricity will be available for the engine when needed. “Really, the only restrictions on how long she can stay at sea is water and food on board for the crew.”
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