As fuel prices soar around the world, shipping companies may again turn to the power of the wind to help transport cargoes across the world’s oceans. SkySails, a Hamburg, Germany-based company, now offers a sort of commercial paraglider that can be deployed from the deck of a cargo ship.
Beluga Shipping, a Bremen-based heavy-lift shipping company, has had a SkySails system installed on its latest vessel, Beluga SkySails, a 462-foot cargo ship, which will be put into service in the coming year. “The SkySails technology is ready for market entry exactly at the right time,” said Niels Stolbergs, managing partner of the Beluga Group, Bremen, in a statement. “The rising and continuously high price of oil is a matter that ship owners are already dealing with.” Stolbergs also points out that significantly tightened and costly emission regulations are being put into place. “Offshore wind energy is an unbeatable, cost-effective propulsion source,” Stolbergs said.
SkySails points to a study from the University of Delaware that suggested the world trade fleet consumes approximately 289 million tons of fuel each year – a factor in global warming as ships’ engines operate on high-sulfer fuel oil. Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance of London reported that shipping traffic produces 10 million tons of sulfur dioxide each year and is thus responsible for more than 7 percent of the worldwide output of sulfur dioxide. The IMO has announced regulations requiring shipping companies to reduce their vessels’ emissions.