The SkySails company of Germany will begin sea trials of it's large 160 square metre kite on an ocean going freighter early in 2007. Designed to provide a kite traction assist to the regular diesel engines of the MV Beluga, the large sail is expected to reduce fuel costs by 15 to 20% by using wind power.
Stephan Wrage, inventor and founder of SkySails, reported in Daily Tech, an Inernet news site about the applications of technology, that "I got the idea on a sail boat a few years ago. I love flying kites and found sailing rather slow. I thought the enormous power in kites could somehow be utilized."
Beluga Shipping, working with Wrage and SkySails, will have one ship outfitted and operational early in 2007. The SkySail will be attached to a mast at the front of the ship and will be utilized whenever wind conditions permit. Unlike a sail on a sailboat, traction kites cannot 'tack' with the wind in the same manner. Thus there may be some wind conditions that do not permit deployment of the sail for a traction boost.
As reported in Daily Tech,
"Beluga Shipping is a believer in the technology and is currently having its "MV Beluga SkySails" vessel outfitted with a sail and a computer-controlled central steerage unit. The ship will make its maiden voyage early next year. Beluga Shipping CEO Neils Stolberg estimates the SkySail will drop his company's $7,500 daily fuel bill to $6,000.
"You've got to look at new ideas to cope with developments in oil prices," said Stolberg. "When energy prices double in such a short time, you've got to innovate. We won't be able to switch the engines off. But we're confident we can reduce fuel usage -- and cut emissions."