Car manufacturer, Groupe Renault, is partnering with French designer and operator of cargo sailing ships, NeoLine, to reduce the carbon footprint of the Group’s supply chain.
NeoLine has designed a 136-meter ro-ro with 4,200 square meters of sail area it says has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent through the use of wind power primarily, combined with a cost-cutting speed and optimized energy mix. commission the vessels by 2020-2021 on a pilot route joining Saint-Nazaire in France, the U.S. Eastern seaboard and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada).
From The Sentinel by Kelvin Chan
As the shipping industry faces pressure to cut climate-altering greenhouse gases, one answer is blowing in the wind.
European and U.S. tech companies, including one backed by airplane maker Airbus, are pitching futuristic sails to help cargo ships harness the free and endless supply of wind power.
While they sometimes don't even look like sails -- some are shaped like spinning columns -- they represent a cheap and reliable way to reduce CO2 emissions for an industry that depends on a particularly dirty form of fossil fuels.
The merchant shipping industry releases 2.2% of the world’s carbon emissions, about the same as Germany, and the International Maritime Organization estimates that could increase up to 250% by 2050 if no action is taken.
Finnish company Norsepower may have a solution in the spinning cylinders they’ve designed for ships to harness wind power and produce forward thrust.
The result is a ship that needs less fuel to travel the seas - a major boost to the industry that transports 90% of international trade.
VICE News took a ride on the Estraden, a cargo ship fitted with Norsepower Rotor Sails, to see the technology that can reduce a ship’s carbon emissions by 1000 tons per year.
If all 50,000 merchant ships adopted Norsepower Rotor Sails, the costs saved on fuel would be over $7 billion a year, and the emissions prevented would equal more than 12 coal fired power plants.
While zero emission ships could be achieved using Rotor Sails paired with other alternative fuel sources, the economic incentives haven’t been strong enough to mobilize the industry just yet.
But strides such as those taken by Norsepower could help kickstart a widescale greening of the industry.
"It's an old technology," said Tuomas Riski, the CEO of Finland's Norsepower, which added its "rotor sail" technology for the first time to a tanker in August.
"Our vision is that sails are coming back to the seas."
Denmark's Maersk Tankers is using its Maersk Pelican oil tanker to test Norsepower's 30 meter (98 foot) deck-mounted spinning columns, which convert wind into thrust based on an idea first floated nearly a century ago.
Separately, A.P. Moller-Maersk, which shares the same owner and is the world's biggest container shipping company, pledged this week to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050, which will require developing commercially viable carbon neutral vessels by the end of next decade.
This is Enercon's E-Ship 1 128m cargo vessel built in 2010 designed for the transportation of wind turbine components. She is a most unusual looking ship featuring four 27m tall Flettner Rotor Sails which rotate rapidly, due to the magnus effect this design helps reduce engine fuel costs with greater efficiency.
The shipping sector's interest in "sail tech" and other ideas took on greater urgency after the International Maritime Organization, the U.N.'s maritime agency, reached an agreement in April to slash emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
Transport's contribution to earth-warming emissions are in focus as negotiators in Katowice, Poland, gather for U.N. talks to hash out the details of the 2015 Paris accord on curbing global warming.
Beluga Projects SkySails
Shipping, like aviation, isn't covered by the Paris agreement because of the difficulty attributing their emissions to individual nations, but environmental activists say industry efforts are needed.
Ships belch out nearly 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, accounting for 2-3 percent of global greenhouse gases. The emissions are projected to grow between 50 to 250 percent by 2050 if no action is taken.
Notoriously resistant to change, the shipping industry is facing up to the need to cut its use of cheap but dirty "bunker fuel" that powers the global fleet of 50,000 vessels -- the backbone of world trade.
The IMO is taking aim more broadly at pollution, requiring ships to start using low-sulfur fuel in 2020 and sending ship owners scrambling to invest in smokestack scrubbers, which clean exhaust, or looking at cleaner but pricier distillate fuels.
The GoodShipping Program is the world’s first initiative to decarbonize container shipping by changing the marine fuel mix – switching from heavy fuel oil towards sustainable marine fuel.
The Program enables cargo owners to make a change: their footprint from shipping will be reduced significantly, regardless of existing contracts, cargo routes and volumes.
A Dutch group, the Goodshipping Program , is trying biofuel, which is made from organic matter.
It refueled a container vessel in September with 22,000 liters of used cooking oil, cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 40 tons.
In Norway, efforts to electrify maritime vessels are gathering pace, highlighted by the launch of the world's first all-electric passenger ferry, Future of the Fjords, in April.
Chemical maker Yara is meanwhile planning to build a battery-powered autonomous container ship to ferry fertilizer between plant and port.
Ship owners have to move with the times, said Bjorn Tore Orvik, Yara's project leader.
Building a conventional fossil-fueled vessel "is a bigger risk than actually looking to new technologies ... because if new legislation suddenly appears then your ship is out of date," said Orvik.
Batteries are effective for coastal shipping, though not for long-distance sea voyages, so the industry will need to consider other "energy carriers" generated from renewable power, such as hydrogen or ammonia, said Jan Kjetil Paulsen, an advisor at the Bellona Foundation, an environmental non-government organization.
Wind power is also feasible, especially if vessels sail more slowly.
"That is where the big challenge lies today," said Paulsen.
The performance of the EcoFlettner, which has been tested on the MV Fehn Pollux since July, clearly exceeds the expectations of the scientists.
“The data we have evaluated so far signifcantly outmatch those of our model calculations,” says Professor Michael Vahs, who has been researching the topic of wind propulsion for seagoing vessels at the University of Applied Science Emden / Leer for more than 15 years.
“In perfect conditions, this prototype delivers more thrust than the main engine.”
“In perfect conditions, this prototype delivers more thrust than the main engine.”
15 companies from around Leer have been involved in the development and construction of the sailing system. The whole project is funded by the EU and coordinated by Mariko in Leer.
The rotor is 18 meters high and has a diameter of three meters.
After lengthy test runs ashore, the rotor is now being tested under real conditions aboard 90- meter-long multi-purpose freighter MV Fehn Pollux.
On board MV Fehn Pollux more than 50 different data are continuously collected and computed in real time by the Flettner control system on the bridge.
The computer uses the data to calculate the optimum settings for the rotor under the current conditions.
Wind power looks to hold the most promise.
The technology behind Norsepower's rotor sails, also known as Flettner rotors, is based on the principle that airflow speeds up on one side of a spinning object and slows on the other.
That creates a force that can be harnessed.
Rotor sails can generate thrust even from wind coming from the side of a ship.
German engineer Anton Flettner pioneered the idea in the 1920s but the concept languished because it couldn't compete with cheap oil.
On a windy day, Norsepower says rotors can replace up to 50 percent of a ship's engine propulsion. Overall, the company says it can cut fuel consumption by 7 to 10 percent.
Maersk Pelican: Trialling a pair of Norsepower Rotors under trading conditions
Maersk Tankers said the rotor sails have helped the Pelican use less engine power or go faster on its travels across, resulting in better fuel efficiency, though it didn't give specific figures.
One big problem with rotors is they get in the way of port cranes that load and unload cargo.
To get around that, U.S. startup Magnuss has developed a retractable version.
The New York-based company is raising $10 million to build its concept, which involves two 50-foot (15-meter) steel cylinders that retract below deck.
"It's just a better mousetrap," said CEO James Rhodes, who says his target market is the "Panamax" size bulk cargo ships carrying iron ore, coal or grain.
High tech versions of conventional sails are also on the drawing board.
Spain's bound4blue's aircraft wing-like sail and collapses like an accordion, according to a video of a scaled-down version from a recent trade fair.
The first two will be installed next year followed by five more in 2020.
The company is in talks with 15 more ship owners from across Europe, Japan, China and the U.S. to install its technology, said co-founder Cristina Aleixendrei.
- Maritime Executive : Flettner Rotor Exceeds Expectations / eConowind Solution Readies for Sea Trials / Viking Line Installs Rotor Sail on Cruise Ferry / Perfect Storm Brewing for Wind Ships
- ShipInsight : Shooting the breeze over wind power
- Wired : Cheap oil killed sailing ships. Now they’re back and totally tubular
- CleanTechnica : Emissions From Huge Vessels Are About To Get Slashed With The Use Of Rotor Sails
- YouTube : Oceanwings, wind propulsion for 21st century boats as seen by VPLP