Capturing wind energy to power cargo ships

By Meera Dolasia on January 21, 2008

Photo credit: skysails Gmbh

High energy prices and a desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, have led two German Companies to combine forces and try harness the oldest and cheapest source of energy - the wind. 

The companies have developed a high-tech kite system, which will use computer-guided technology to pull large cargo ships across the oceans.

The first cargo ship to try this is the "MV Beluga Sky Sails, a 433ft (132 meter), cargo ship. The ship will make its first journey this month and go across the Atlantic to Venezuela (S. America) up to Boston (USA), and then back to Europe. A giant kite tethered (anchored), to a 15-meter high mast will pull the ship.

In order to get the maximum benefit of the most powerful winds, which are usually high above the surface of the water, the kite flies up to 300 meters high and helps tug the 10,000 tonnes ship forward, cutting down fuel consumption.

When the winds are strong, the sails are expected to cut fuel consumption by almost 20 percent or more and therefore also reduce pollution.

These sails are not cheap however, each one costing 500,000 euros or about $725,000 USD. But the manufacturer believes that the significant savings in fuel costs and the desire by companies to reduce pollution, will drive demand for their product. The video shows the "MV Beluga SkySails" being tugged along by the giant kite.

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  • .Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 6:04 pm
    what do you mean break off, the ropes are pronabably made in china
    • mindstorms
      mindstormsMonday, January 5, 2015 at 3:39 pm
      that is cool
      • lunamoonamare
        lunamoonamareSaturday, March 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm
        The kite looks a little small, and I agree with Kendall.
        • Kendall LennonSaturday, March 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm
          These kites are a good idea, but, if the winds are to strong couldn't the kite break off of the ship?
          • gracyThursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:51 am
            • Creeper4566 Friday, January 31, 2014 at 8:10 am
              This was a cool thing to study
              • FlackThursday, January 30, 2014 at 8:33 am
                OMG THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!
                • jacobogmediaarts
                  jacobogmediaartsWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 7:47 am
                  It is a good idea to convert wind energy to electrical energy because it is cheap and it also reduces pollution in the ocean and the cost of fuels.
                  • noahThursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm
                    I like this idea for the kite to pull the ship. Even if there is little wind they have fuel to keep going. It would be a huge let-down if it malfunctioned. It also cuts down on pollution instead of a giant pipe blowing out smoke. Although it is expensive, fuel I think would build up and eventually cost more then the kite did. Ships burn about $99,000 worth of fuel each day.
                    • kaleb knows allThursday, April 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm
                      i wonder how the kite pulls that giant ship with out the line breaking that is very interesting how it works and how the boat isn't polluting the air but what is bad about it is that it costs alot so therefore the ship is so huge and the kite is so tiny its just so unbelievable

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