Maersk harnesses the wind to power tankers

Dive Brief:

  • Maersk tankers are employing 100 foot tall rotating cylinders as sails in an effort to leverage wind power and cut down on fuel, The Wall Street Journal reported. Positive results could mean the technology will be installed on four dozen ships.
  • Though previous wind tech efforts failed due to lack of effective force, the new cylinder-sails are made of highly lightweight composite materials by the Finnish company Norsepower Oy Ltd. 
  • While Maersk Line is still in the testing phase and has not yet determined the possible cost, the company hopes the cylinders could reduce fuel usage by 10% — they spend approximately $2.1 billion per year on fuel — as well assist the line in passing demanding emissions standards. 

Dive Insight:

A pending reduction in greenhouse gas emissions rates from 3.5% to 0.5% within the shipping industry makes the appeal of wind energy irresistible, as does the potential savings in fuel. While methods, such as flettner rotors, have previously been attempted, none have been found forceful enough to justify the expense of retrofits, the cost of which falls squarely on vessel owner's shoulders.

Motivation also exists in the form of passage rewards. As of January 1, 2017, expedited transit became available to ships meeting one of three international low-emissions thresholds (EEDI, ESI, or NOx) at the upgraded Panama Canal. 

In a further effort to lower emissions, the Maersk Line is working with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to reduce fuel consumption by 10%, along with comparable reductions in diesel emissions, as part of a $125 million energy efficiency makeover of 12 vessels that regularly visit both ports. 

Follow on Twitter

Filed Under: Freight Technology
Top image credit: Maersk Line