Kite-Assisted Cargo Ship Successfully Completes Maiden Voyage

Back in December, we told you of a new company called Skysails that was reintroducing the concept of harnessing the wind on the open seas to save fuel for cargo ships. For its maiden voyage, it would travel from Germany to Venezuela, the United States and Norway under the assistance of a $725,000 computer-controlled kite. Now, after two months, the trip has been achieved — and according to all those involved, a complete success. From the article,

“With that [trip] we impressively validated the original expectations we had for the system“, was how SkySails managing director Stephan Wrage assessed the first practical trials aboard the Beluga ship. “In the future, depending on the route and weather conditions, we’ll be able to post fuel savings of between 10% and 35% using wind power.”

During its time at sea, the kite-assisted ship traveled a total of 11,952 nautical miles. During the time that the kite was deployed — which lasted anywhere from a few minutes to up to 8 hours — it pulled the ship with up to 5 tons of power at force 5 winds — a relief of more than 20% on the ship’s engines. Projected onto an entire day, this performance by the “Beluga SkySails” represents savings of about 2.5 tons of fuel and more than $1,000 a day.

As this is just the initial stage of a pilot program expected to last 12 months, company officials are gearing up for more ambitious testing in future trips. A kite that is twice the size of the original will soon be deployed for double the energy productions and cost savings. The Beluga shipping company is even considering passing on these savings to the crew as an incentive. Nice!

For more on this successful voyage — the future plans for kite-assisted ships, jump here.

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