CONTAINER SHIPS POWERED BY KITES
Noted investment banker and peak oil spokesman Matthew Simmons talked enthusiastically about this idea in his recent Financial Sense Newshour interview with Jim Puplava, All the Canaries Have Stopped Singing.
Shipping Companies Harness the Wind to Save on Energy
Shelley Emling, November 23, 2007 (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Big cargo ships, the “lifeblood of global trade”; SkySails (Stephan Wrage, founder & Sonja Schreiner, spokeswoman); Beluga Group; KiteShip Corp.; John Barnes, editor, Marine Engineers Review; Oivind Mathisen, editor, Cruise Industry News
Companies are manufacturing giant kites attached by flexible cable to ocean-going vessels to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
- The Beluga Group’s ocean freighter Beluga SkySails sets out Dec. 15 for Houston, TX, with its first cargo, a shipment of windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark.
- SkySails began with kite-propulsion systems for luxury yachts in 2001. It plans to sell kites in the general marketplace by 2008. Its goal for 2015 is to be on 1,500 ships. Stephan Wrage came up with the SkySails idea when he was 15.
- The Beluga Group is based in Bremen, Germany.
- SkySails is based in Hamburg, Germany.
- KiteShip Corp. in based in Martinez, CA.
- SkySails flies 1,000 feet above sea level where winds are 50% stronger than surface winds.
- SkySails can cut fuel consumption and GHGs 35% to 50% under optimal conditions.
- The shipping industry may cause twice the GHGs of air traffic.
- KiteShip Corp. has made its kites mostly for private yachts but presently plans to expand into cargo and cruise vessels.
- 2 drawbacks: (1) the cost of crews to tend the kites; (2) the system doesn’t work in a head wind.
- Cruise ships: impractical unless itineraries are designed according to wind conditions.
If investment banker Matt Simmons backs the idea, the numbers must add up. (click to enlarge)
- Beluga Group statement: "…a decrease of fuel consumption as well as a cutback of the emission of harmful greenhouse gases on sea by 10 percent to 20 percent is the expected outcome of the pioneering application of SkySails."
- Barnes, Marine Engineers Review: "This could work, but there is an extra cost entailed, and it won't make much sense if the price of fuel falls back…It seems to be a practical approach, but we still need to see what the benefits and penalties will be."
- Schreiner, SkySails: “[Emissions restrictions necessitate considering kite power.] This is especially the case in coastal areas frequented by cruise ships — the latest example being the United States — where more and more sanctions are being imposed to reduce emissions…"
- Mathisen, Cruise Industry News: "In addition to propulsion, cruise ships also need to generate electricity for a variety of uses, from air conditioning to keeping the beer cold, which again would mean a reliable source of energy…[But given rising fuel prices] I think the need will drive innovation, and maybe the towing kite is indeed the first step in that direction."