Monday, May 14, 2012

Bulk Carrier Trial as Freight Vessels Revert to Wind Power

Potential to Generate Energy Prompts High Profile Scheme
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – The drive and desire of the shipping industry to find cleaner alternatives to the corrosive environmental damage caused by traditional bunker fuels has brought about a scheme which, not so many years ago, would have been viewed as science fiction. A bulk freight vessels is currently the test bed for a revolutionary attempt to harness the traditional power of the wind in a completely new way.

We have illustrated some extreme examples previously, Beluga Shipping’s skysails kite springs to mind, but this new scheme has been hatched between the assurance specialists Lloyd’s Register’s Strategic Research Group and Totempower Energy Systems together with Zodiac Maritime Agencies to assess the potential of wind-generation devices onboard commercial ships as the maritime industry steps up its pursuit of viable carbon-alternate fuels.

A fully autonomous wind-monitoring system designed and assembled by Totempower has been installed on the Zodiac-managed bulk carrier Cape Flamingo. Sensors have been installed in locations where the best wind conditions and the most relevant environmental data (wind speed, direction and turbulence) could be expected, with consideration given to the most effective locations for onboard wind generation.

The project is expected to identify and measure the potential generating capacity from wind power for the ship’s trading patterns. The data will be used to support the development of computational fluid dynamics-based simulation models that could be suitable for predicting the energy yields on other Zodiac ships. Simon Turpin, Environmental Superintendent for Zodiac Maritime Agencies said:

"We are very excited to embark on this initiative, the data-collection phase is expected to last 4 to 6 months. When the field trials are completed, we hope to have a better understanding of the feasibility of implementing wind turbines onboard our ships and the associated economic and environmental benefits."

The alliance was formed at a time when commercial shipping is increasingly looking to work with specialised service providers to support the development of new technology, creating cooperative agreements that can provide the technical solutions that the industry needs. Wolf Dietrich, Chief Executive Officer, Totempower Energy Systems commented:

“Wind assisted power generation onboard commercial vessels seems a feasible option, although the benefits and design requirements need to be well identified and understood. We are glad that our in-house developed technology can assist in this process.”

Spyros Hirdaris, Senior Specialist with Lloyd’s Register explained that supplemental wind power is just one of many cleaner energy options being explored by the marine team at the Strategic Research Group in concert with ship owners, designers and operators; others include research into LNG as fuel, nuclear propulsion systems, solar and tidal energy and the potential of fuel cells, adding:

“This is innovative work, and better onboard energy management is the goal, to save fuel and maximise the understanding of alternative sources of power, we need good data. This project is designed to provide the information that Zodiac needs to evaluate the effectiveness for effective wind-energy solutions.”

Photo: The Zodiac vessel showing solar panels and wind sensing equipment