I have to admit that whenever I read about “new” ideas that are really improved old ideas that we forgot in this modern age I can’t help but think there is a wealth of historical knowledge we have yet to improve upon. We are learning from the past and combining it with the future though! Take for example the ingenious idea of using a sail on a boat, or a “new” approach to gathering energy (wind). Indeed these new approaches do improve on the original idea and do so while being cheaper than the current finite resource-based approach to energy. They also tend to combine different sources of renewable energy.
A true triumphant of old world techniques like sailing and new technology is floating on the coast of Australia. A boat that has sails that also function as solar panels.
The concept is the brainchild of Robert Dane, an Australian doctor from the small fishing town of Ulladulla in New South Wales. A keen sailor and rower, Dane was watching a solar-powered boat race in Canberra in 1996 and noted that the winning boat used a solar panel inclined towards the sun. The only problem was that as the wind grew stronger the panel became a hazard and had to be pulled down.
“It intrigued me, and I started wondering how one could combine sun and wind to power a modern, seaworthy boat,” Dane says. “And then one day six months later, I woke up one morning and realized that I could use a wing sail that was at the same time a solar collector.