14 March 2017

Maersk Tanker to Trial Flettner Rotor to Harness Wind Power for Sailing  

Ninety Year Old Concept Day May Have Come

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Shipping News Feature FINLAND – UK – Norsepower in partnership with Maersk Tankers, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime, will install and trial Flettner rotor sails on board a Maersk Tankers-owned vessel, in the hopes of providing valuable insights into fuel saving and operation experience. The rotor sails technology was invented more than 90 years ago as a means of producing the lift and propulsion needed to replace old sailing rigs.

Maersk Tankers will supply a 109,647 dwt, Long Range 2 (LR2) product tanker vessel which will be retrofitted with two 30 metre tall by 5 metre diameter Norsepower Rotor Sails during the first half of 2018, before undergoing testing and data analysis at sea until the end of 2019. Combined, these are expected to reduce average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7-10%. Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer, Maersk Tankers, explained:

“Together with our partners, we have the opportunity to deploy an innovative technology that can improve fuel efficiency on our LR2 product tanker vessels and help to reduce their environmental impact. We look forward to contributing to the project, and sharing our decades of experience and knowledge within safety and tanker operations.”

The project is majority funded by the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) with contributions from Maersk Tankers and Norsepower. ETI is a public-private partnership between global energy and engineering companies; BP, Caterpillar, EDF, Rolls-Royce, and Shell as well as the UK Government. Shell will act as project coordinator, and provide operational and terminal/port consultancy to the project team, while Maersk Tankers will provide technical and operational insight. Commenting on the partnership, Tuomas Riski, CEO, Norsepower, said:

“We are privileged and excited to be collaborating with Maersk Tankers, Shell, and the ETI on this project. We are optimistic that support for this trial from these industry leading organisations will open up the market for our technology to a larger number of long-range product tanker vessels – paving the way for ship fuel efficiencies, and ultimately reducing emissions, including greenhouse gases. As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets.”

Andrew Scott, Programme Manager HDV Marine and Offshore Renewable Energy, The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), added:

“Flettner rotors have the potential to reduce ship fuel consumption substantially, especially on tankers and dry bulk carriers. It is one of the few fuel saving technologies that could offer double digit percentage improvements. To date, there has been insufficient full scale demonstration on a suitable ocean going marine vessel to prove the technology benefits and operational impact. Demonstrating the technology in this project will make it more attractive to shipping companies and investors, and could play a significant role in reducing the fuel costs and improving the environmental impact of shipping in the future.”

The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernised version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship, originally invented by Finnish engineer Sigurd Savonius and was later demonstrated by Anton Flettner in an Atlantic crossing that took place in 1926. Each Norsepower Rotor Sail is made using the latest intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials, and offers a simple yet robust hi-tech solution. When wind conditions are favourable, the main engines can be throttled back, providing a net fuel cost and emission savings, while not impacting scheduling. Independent experts will analyse the data gathered from the project before publishing technical and operational insights, and performance studies.

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