SkySails seeks to adapt advances in kite design and understanding to the merchant marine (and luxury yacht) fleets. As per SkySails founder, Stephan Wrage, "I thought the enormous power in kites could somehow be utilised."
The initial actual cargo ship, the 9,775 ton Beluga SkySails, is about to go on its maiden voyage. This looks real although this is been a long anticipated event. (It had been scheduled to launch this past summer.) The claimed expectation is that the system should cut fuel costs by 10-15 percent. The cost for that fuel efficiency: between $700,000-$3.5 million of capital investment per ship.
As per the SkySails site,
SkySails are wind propulsion systems for modern shipping. By using a SkySails system ship operation will become more profitable, safer and independent of declining oil reserves.
The planned product range contains towing kite propulsion systems with a nominal propulsion power of up to 5,000 kW (about 6,800 HP). On annual average fuel costs can be lowered between 10-35% depending on actual wind conditions and actual time deployed. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumptions can temporarily be reduced up to 50%.
At the current oil price a SkySails propulsion creates approx. just 1/3 of the cost of a conventional ship diesel.
The SkySail will go up to 300 meters above the ship to capture the stronger winds at altitude. This first kite is 160 square meters. The next two, for deployment on new Beluga ships in 2009, will be double that size (320 square meters), and the next generation will be 600 meters.
This could decrease costs (and emissions) dramatically, maybe to the tune of over 50 percent of the ships fuel requirements.
The company has three firm orders in hand, but they have an an ambitious target: 1500 vessels equipped by 2015.
And, well, this is not just for the merchant marine. They are seeking to satisfy the luxury market as well.
With SkySails there is no compromise regarding comfort: Motor yachts provide spaciousness and speed while sailing yachts offer emission- and vibration-free enjoyment. Cruising at sea is significantly more comfortable on a sailing yacht, but this is achieved with a disturbing inclined position.
The fully automated SkySails-System combines the advantages of both worlds effortlessly: On a yacht fitted with a SkySails you can glide soundlessly in motor yacht comfort.
Greater comfort with reduced fossil fuel usage.
Price tag for impact?
The Beluga SkySails sail: 500,000 Euros (roughly $725k). The expectation: fuel savings of up to $1600 per day and a 10-20 percent cut in carbon emissions.
From over at Worldchanging, Jamais Cascio had this perspective on SkySails awhile ago:
While there is something superficially absurd about massive cargo ships being pulled along by kites, upon reflection the notion makes sense. It's a novel form of "hybrid" power, taking advantage of strengths of diverse propulsion systems: the consistency of diesel engines and the free availability and startling strength of wind power. While SkySails still needs to demonstrate that their system works as claimed, we will undoubtedly see more of these "situational hybrid" power generation systems in years to come.
Absurd ... maybe not. But "situational hybrid" provides a good phrase for considering the mixing and matching of traditional engine and far more traditional sail for a 21st century solution to moving goods and people around the world.
Skysails and Global Warming ...
To be clear, 10-15% improvement won't solve the maritime GHG contributions challenge, but it would represent a start at turning the situation around.
Earlier Energy Smart discussion: Renewable Energy at Sea.
written by Derek Wall, December 26, 2007
written by ASiege, December 26, 2007
written by Terapia alternativa, December 27, 2007
written by Tim, March 16, 2008
written by Dejan, October 30, 2008
written by Dejan, October 30, 2008
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