New sky-sail vessel completes maiden voyage

Beluga SkySails finishes her maiden commercial voyage. Photo:ReutersTriplepundit: We’ve been keeping tabs on the progress of the Beluga SkySails, first modern commercial cargo vessel to harness wind power with a deployable computer controlled kite. The ship arrived in the Venezuelan port of Guanta on Tuesday, leaving from Germany on January 22nd.

SkySails didn’t deploy the high-tech kite system until reaching the Azores, midway in her voyage. Once fully deployed, the system saved between 10 and 15 percent in fuel consumption, or $1000 to $1500 per day, according to Verena Frank, project manager for the SkySails. This was the first time the system had been tested under the difficult conditions of the mid-Atlantic.

As bugs get ironed out and crews gain expertise with the system, the kite can be deployed for up to half of a typical voyage while fuel conservation is expected to increase another 5 to 10 percent. While some skeptics insist that the kite system isn’t practical for the largest cargo vessels, SkySails’ innovative approach and application of wind power may just prove the skeptics wrong.

Photo: Reuters

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