But why drives on that ship so fast / Without or wave or wind?

A company called SkySails is hoping to reduce fuel usage by large shipping vessels by supplementing their fossil fuel engines with wind power. They estimate that a kite of 160 square metres could, when tethered to a ship, reduce fuel usage by 20%. The company has a video explaining the idea.

It would be very interesting to know (a) what proportion of a time such a system could be used during real-world shipping and (b) how long it would take to pay back the total cost of the system through lower fuel bills.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

5 thoughts on “But why drives on that ship so fast / Without or wave or wind?”

  1. High-tech ship sets sail

    February 1, 2008 at 1:16 PM EST

    BERLIN — The world’s first commercial ship powered in part by a giant kite is recording fuel savings of between 10 and 15 per cent midway into its maiden voyage across the Atlantic, the shipping company told Reuters on Friday.

    The 10,000-tonne MS Beluga SkySails left Germany on Jan. 22 for Venezuela, but its computer-guided kite system was fully deployed only after it reached the trade winds near the Azores, said Verena Frank, Beluga Shipping’s SkySails project manager.

    The 10-to-15-per-cent reduction in bunker oil consumption, which amounts to about $1,000 to $1,500 a day savings, is in line with projections made by the shipping company and SkySails.

    The SkySail system, which is also designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, had never before been used on a ship as large.

  2. “Everything has worked out as we had planned,” Mr. Frank told Reuters. “There’s still a lot of testing, adjusting and experimenting taking place. The aim is to have the kite operational for about 50 per cent of the entire first journey.”

    Once the bugs have been ironed out and the crew’s expertise with the €500,000 ($745,000 Canadian) high-tech system improves, fuel savings are projected to be up to 20 per cent.

  3. The world’s 50,000 merchant ships, which carry 90 per cent of traded goods from oil, gas, coal, and grains to electronic goods, emit 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – about 5 per cent of the world’s total.

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