The propulsion system features a 320 square metre towing kite. It can be retrofitted to existing cargo and fishing vessels for use with the main engine. It was developed by the Hamburg firm SkySails.1 The ship, which is owned by Bremen-based Beluga Shipping, set sail on its maiden voyage in the North Sea on 18 January. Four days later it set off from Bremen carrying goods to Venezuela.
The shipping firm believes fuel savings of 10-35% are feasible depending on the wind conditions. SkySails says in optimum conditions fuel consumption can be cut by up to 50%. The first results are expected within the next few months.
"Interest in the SkySails technology among shipping companies has already been high, but especially so over last year in light of the rising oil prices," said founder of the company Stephan Wrage.