Wind to power shipping tanker

The Finnish cleantech company Norsepower will outfit a Maersk Tanker vessel with two wind rotor sails by 2018. These are expected to reduce the ship’s fuel consumption by around 10 per cent.

Wind power is finding its way back into seafaring. As the Finnish wind rotor manufacturer Norsepower and the Danish tanker operator Maersk Tankers jointly announced, the two companies are working together to install and trial rotor sails on a tanker vessel.

The nearly 110,000 tonne tanker will be retrofitted with two rotor sails, each 30 metres tall and 5 metres in diameter. When the wind conditions are favourable, the rotors can power the ship, allowing the main engines to be throttled back. This is expected to reduce the average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7 to 10 per cent.

The rotor sails will be fitted during the first half of 2018, and the vessel will undergo testing and analysis at sea through to the end of 2019. The project is being co-financed by the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The oil giant Shell will act as project coordinator.

Norsepower CEO Tuomas Riski called it a “privilege” to collaborate with Maersk Tankers, Shell and ETI and said he is optimistic that the support of these three partners will open up the market for the rotor sail technology.

This paves “the way for ship fuel efficiencies, and ultimately reducing emissions, including greenhouse gases,” said Riski. “As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets.”

Andrew Scott, programme manager at ETI, said that the rotors have the potential to substantially reduce ship fuel consumption, especially on tankers and dry bulk carriers. “It is one of the few fuel saving technologies that could offer double digit percentage improvements.”

The Norsepower rotor sail solution is a spinning cylinder that uses what’s called the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. Each rotor sail is made of intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials, making it a simple yet robust hi-tech solution.


Image credit: Norsepower

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