The 12,000-ton hybrid
Meet the hybrid of the seas: A wind-powered containership
(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- It's not just planes, trains, and automobiles switching to alternative energy sources. The world's 50,000 diesel-powered containerships -- which haul 90 percent of all goods -- are looking for ways to go green too.
This fall Germany's top shipping firm, Beluga, will launch its latest containership with a clean-tech twist: a giant kite that flies 1,000 feet above the bow, connected to an automated telescoping mast. Wind power won't displace the ship's giant diesel engines, but it will take a load off, slashing fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent.
The SkySails kite, named for the Hamburg-based startup that created it, is the first modern commercial application of an old concept. Japanese shippers experimented with wind-assisted vessels in the 1980s after a spike in oil prices.
But with today's fuel costs already sky-high and likely to keep rising, and carbon emissions from the shipping industry set to jump 75 percent by 2027, hybrid freighters may soon become a permanent fixture.
Stephan Wrage, SkySails's 33-year-old founder, says he's targeting cargo vessels, oil tankers, fish trawlers, and big yachts. Wrage hopes to add more commercial clients -- including the biggest yachts of all, passenger cruise ships -- if Beluga sails through its sea trials this summer without mishap.
SKYSAILS BY THE NUMBERS
1,100 SQ. FT.
UP TO 1,000 FT.
$400,000-$800,000 PER VESSEL
FUEL SAVINGSclick here.
From the May 1, 2007 issue