Exploiting the advantages of being energy independent

10 Aug 2017
Flettner rotors are huge columns that exploit the fact that an electrically rotated cylinder in a wind creates thrust

Flettner rotors are huge columns that exploit the fact that an electrically rotated cylinder in a wind creates thrust

Shippers are exploring wind and solar power as they strive to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by becoming more energy independent.

Norsepower and the shipping giant, Maersk, will start testing Flettner Rotor Sails in ships starting in 2018.

The aim is to achieve a 7 to 10% of fuel cost reduction leading up to €300000 savings in big tankers. There should be a similarly impressive percentage reduction in emissions.

Flettner rotors are huge columns that exploit the fact that an electrically rotated cylinder in a wind creates thrust. Its creator, Norsepower, says that the rotors have a better tolerance of wind direction than sails.

They say that they could be complementary to Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) which creates electricity using tethered drones or cloth kites way above the ship at 200 to 1000 metres, where winds are four times stronger and more continuous.

In 2016, Norsepower's Flettner sea trials showed potential for 20% fuel savings of up to 20% on windier routes.

When it comes to solar power, Solaroad TNO of the Netherlands is researching ‘solar roads’ suitable for ships that could produce hundreds of kilowatts to potentially complement solar sails that being developed by the UK's University of Bolton .

It is investigating solar road technology applied to large ships where MW levels can be achieved particularly if increasingly affordable gallium arsenide is used. The technique can be complemented by wave power which can be used to lift the ship to reduce drag, a technique that is newly viable.

Wind and solar power for ships will be two of the main topics up for discussion at the first Energy Independent Electric Vehicles conference which takes place from 27 to 28 September at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands.