High as a kite
It’s the Oscars of the sustainable shipping world. The Hamburg-based company Skysails recently won the ‘Environmental Technology of the Year Award’ at the Sustainable Shipping Awards for its SkySails system. The company won for the progress it has made in making feasible huge kites attached to cargo ships when they are steaming downwind, thereby reducing the fuel needed to run them. The wind propulsion system is not new, but it is increasingly being applied to larger and larger vessels, and making real inroads into fuel costs. Depending on the prevailing wind conditions, a ship’s average annual fuel costs can be reduced by 10 to 35 percent by using the SkySails system. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumption can temporarily be cut by up to 50 percent. Cargo vessels, fishing trawlers and super yachts of over 30m in length can all be fitted with the sails.