PV-powered buoys for maritime fairways

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A solar buoy developed by Finnish company Arctia.

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The performance of an innovative solar-powered buoy is currently being tested by Sweden’s Ports of Stockholm in the Stockholm fairway.

The novel technology for smart navigational markers intends to improve the safety and efficiency of maritime fairways through digitalization. The buoy is 10-meters high, with 3.5 meters visible above the water surface, and is equipped with an LED lamp. Its diameter measures 80 cm.

“The solar cells are integrated into the buoy and the batteries are specially constructed to be resilient to icy winters,” the Ports of Stockholm said in a statement. “The rechargeable batteries are more sustainable, with an operational lifetime of between 7-10 years, in comparison to the current normal one-year lifetime.” No more details on the solar cell technology used were disclosed.

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The buoy is 10 metres tall, with 3.5 metres visible above the water surface.

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The buoy is 10 meters tall, with 3.5 meters visible above the water surface.

Image: Ports of Stockholm

Remote monitoring will be implemented for the batteries, solar cells, and light signal. “This makes both service and maintenance more efficient, as the number of times a service vessel needs to be sent out are fewer, which also reduces emissions,” the statement reads.

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The smart buoy is being developed in the framework of the EU-funded Intelligent Sea. Via the project, floating as well as land-based aids to navigation are equipped with devices for remote monitoring and control as well as environmental sensors.

The buoy was developed by project partner Meritaito Ltd, a uni of Finland-based fairway maintenance service provider Arctia group, which in 2020 developed a solar-powered sniffer buoy for air quality and emission monitoring.

“The Sniffer Buoy can be installed almost anywhere and is easily moved to adjust to seasonal winds or changes in vessel operation routes,” said Arctia in a statement released in June 2020. “The Sniffer Buoy has its own power unit, basing on solar power, so no external infrastructure investments or regular battery exchange is needed.”

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