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Beluga Shipping Launches MV Beluga SkySails

16 December 2007

The MV Beluga Skysails at christening. Click to enlarge.

Beluga Shipping GmbH has launched the 140m MV Beluga Skysails, the world’s first application of the SkySails towing kite auxiliary propulsion system on a cargo vessel. (Earlier post.)

The MV Beluga SkySails is equipped with a towing kite measuring 160 square meters for the first phase of operations. The company anticipates that in this first phase the ship will consume 10-15% less bunker fuel. Later, when the sail is scaled up to 320 square meters in the course of the coming year in order to increase efficiency on the high seas, potential savings of 20-30% are “definitely feasible and realistic,” according to the company.

Beluga is equipping two larger multi-purpose heavy-lift project carriers of the Beluga P1-series with SkySails systems in the near future; the two ships are currently under construction. On these, kites having a sail area of as much as 600 square meters will be used. The company anticipates fuel savings of up to ten tons daily.

The SkySails system. Click to enlarge.

The SkySails system consists of a large towing kite similar to a paraglider connected to the ship via a towing rope, flown between 100 to 500 meters of altitude, and managed by a fully automatic control pod. At an altitude of 100m the average wind speed is between 10% and 20% higher than at an altitude of 10m. Route optimization software helps chart a course designed to maximize the wind power benefit.

The cross-sectional profile of the aerofoil is adjustable via the use of compressed air to achieve optimal aerodynamic properties at all wind speeds and under various weather conditions. At very high wind speeds the performance of the aerofoil can be reduced without having to reduce the area. (No “hauling in” sails.)

The lift of the aerofoil offsets its lateral pull on the ship, thereby eliminating the potential danger of heeling present with conventional sail systems, according to SkySails.

A traveller car takes up the towing line from the kite, and leads it to a winch. The traveller car moves on a traveller fixed circumferentially along the outside of the hull. The traveller takes up and transmits the strain of the towing kite. The location of the traveller car—and hence the point of attachment of the kite to the ship—is dependent on the ship’s course and the wind direction.

SkySails plans a product range of towing kite propulsion systems with a nominal propulsion power of up to 5,000 kW (about 6,800 HP). On annual average, fuel costs can be lowered between 10-35% depending on actual wind conditions and actual time deployed. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumptions can temporarily be reduced up to 50%, according to SkySails.

December 16, 2007 in Hybrids, Ports and Marine, Wind | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)


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Imagine that, a wind powered ship. What will they think of next? All snarkieness aside, it is a clever innovation on an acient technology.

Of course, the latest wind-powered ships no longer need big crews to put up and take down the sails as needed--it's all controlled by powered systems with computer control.

I'm proud to say that I was the one who discovered SkySails three years ago and pushed it in the blogosphere. I take credit for this, thank you.

Back then it was ridiculed, but then it started attracting serious investors and even some European money. The company said they were going to get the first ships working with the system by 2008. And they succeeded.

It's nice to see some innovative renewables actually delivering on their promises on time, because that's what gives them a bad image nowadays: a lot of hype (e.g. algae biofuels) but no results.

SkySails are cool.

Anyone care to calculate how much CO2, NOx and SOx emissions can be saved if all big ships were to use this technology?

If the ship industry should return to steam engines or other external combustion engine. They can significantly reduce emission with factor of 100 or more.
I am not toking of the old 5% efficiency stem engine.
Steam engines in power plants have 40-45% efficiency without combine cycle. With combine cycle they can reach 60%.
There have to be done some research on new proportion system. Some Russian researchers did some investigation in air ships proportion taken straight from nature. The fish tail proportion is significantly more efficient then current propellers.
Here is the link:

Now if SkySails, external combustion engine and fish tail proportion could be apply we could significantly reduced fuel consumption and pollution.

There is definitely no shortage of ideas, and the urgency become more and more important.


for some info on shipping and global warming.

Jonas - SkySails has been around longer than that, and has been attracting investor money just as long. Ridiculed by who? A company I worked for put several million into it and a similar development - only SkySails is looking as though it will pay off.
I'm afraid you didn't discover anything - I was in the presentation meeting in Lisbon when it was presented for capital investment, and I don't remember anyone named Jonas being there.

This is exactly the kind of technological innovation I've been talking about.

visiting googles cheaper than oil campaign site late last month, after thereference in greencar, I was(i must say) somewhat amused andworried at a graphic showing a wind turbine hanging from one of these paraglider thingies.
Amused because I couldnt really see how a tangle of ropes and a sheet could be thought of as a reliable and efficient way to deliver energy to the grid.
So a pleasant suprise to see the excellent and informative article here. Although I'm afraid I still cant see past the tangle in the tethered wind tubine,
I really like this version because: Sailors know thier ropes, there will be a crew of capable, trained operators in attendance at all times (no ducking off for Macdonalds) ships and sails are old mates.
This is a logical progression after observations of the manouverability of these wings in the vertical take off, hover etc demonstrated by competent operators on the local foreshores -Truly unbelievabl till one sees it first hand.
Many off us will have seen graphics and working prototype examples (in the press) of vertical blade sails fitted to yacths and I for one have always appreciated both the ingeuity and simple energy pathway as a practical and desirable technology.
I still doubt If I'll ever want a ride in one though.

@ Jonas,
Whats Algae derived bio fuels steady progress and proven track record got to do with sailing?

==@ Jonas,Whats Algae derived bio fuels steady progress and proven track record got to do with sailing?==

You mean Algae's failure to deliver results?

The concept of photobioreactors was hyped for a while, and now all the algae companies are trying erase any evidence of such stupidity from their websites ;D

GreenFuels in particular had this big south african venture blow up in their face, and fired their CEO and half their staff.


Whether racetrack ponds, or covered ponds may deliverer results is yet to be seen.

But just in general, all BioFuels have way too much hype surrounding them.

But that doesn't stop people from promising biofuels that surpass the laws of physics, or that it's okay to clearcut tropical rainforrests as long as we put profitable biofuel crops in their place.

It's hard to escape the observation that this is a bolt-on to existing ships (i.e., big heavy cans of steel designed around diesel propulsion). Definitely a very smart strategy to pursue the incremental goal of working with existing infrastructure.

Looking forward, imagine the cargo ship of the future, made with severely reduced weight and designed to work with this propulsion system from the ground up, perhaps a catamaran. You could even apply this system to an airship (blimp).

The first steam engines were a bolt-on to existing sailing ships. Look up the Savanna, the very first steamer that wasn't large enough to hold enough fuel. Ships kept auxiliary sales up to the 1880s. A kind of hybrid propulsion approach.

Now, to save fuel we're going back to that approach. Except we have 120 years more experience with shipbuilding and computers.

How big can they make these things? Ships will still be able to keep to their schedules, but advanced satellite and wind-tracking networks will enable them to optimize the skysail's use.

As the price of oil goes up all kinds of new ways of moving ships will be found. Fixed sails, kite sails and even giant eggbeater and tube sails might work.

The large diesels on ships are unusually efficient due to their size and lack of concern for weight but a combined cycle powerplant running podded props and using cheaper lng could also make it.

One more item of note. The last large sailing ships were the windjammers. Massive, steel-hulled vessels up to 400 feet long with up to five masts, yet had half the crews of the smaller clipper ships. Windjammers were used on routes that had little access to coaling stations, or places were it was expensive enough that it made sail more profitable. Under the right conditions they could even be faster than steamers (especially before the steam turbine). The last windjammers sailed up until the 50s, according to Wikipedia.

I have a soft spot for tall ships. The skysail isn't quite the same, but it'll do.

Now can an engineer please tell me it's possible to utilize this technology to pull plastic bag wrapped icebergs from the Antarctic to Africa?

That would be a neat application.

anyone know the difference between this product and the one innovated by kite ship?
i guess multiple players legitimates the market.

Cervus, have you seen the Maltese Falcon? It's a 290 ft square rigger. You'd be interested for sure. It's a cool yacht (yes, it's a bloody yacht).

@ Grey Falcon
I hope this is easier to read with the few less spelling mistakes!
Please note that with new genetic selection and possibility of enhancement, the fact some form of the required infrastructure is already mostly in place and or under construction at the local level, read as piggybacking on existing infrastructure.
The only thing we need to change is the pessimistic outlook.(and a few embarrasing web pages)
As per the previous article and comments Algae project Shell&- 11th dec Greencarcongress

There are a number of as yet untapped and poorly understood potential benifits that await a properly costed sytem. Consider the analogy of compound extraction.
Water is a neccesary component of both algae farming, reticulated water supply, sanitation , sewage treatment and conventional coal powered power stations among others.
So can be expected to exist in some form around areas of population as these are prerequisettes for same.
A model algae plant will look at this and try (There is no technical obsacle) to touch base at all these points.
Pre treated sewage with solids removed (put that in a barge) is now a transport medium, transporting recyclable high nutrient water to the algae ponds .The ponds may be a series of "billabongs" on route to the nearby coalpower station.
Coalpower and others require a large body of water for heating, algaes require depending on species, a stabilized temp for maximum growth.
Nutrients dep on variety.
CO2 depending on variety
sunlight " " "

The very worst outcomes from any half baked version will supply clean water to the outflow.
Once upon a world we would have dreamed of such a good outcome.
In the pollution stressed greenhouse finite world we find ourselves in now, people seem to have fogotten that there are a lot of peripheral issues re proper stewardship and minimising other enviromental damage.

A second stage in this compound algae factory bio remediation project will see the selected standard algae forms providing @20% by weight of oil (given high yeild extraction methods)with a large residual stream of high quality paper making material (more than a guess) or high protein feedstock for animals @20%+ .
These nubers are a guide only and depending on the level of extraction and the area of focus, will trend more to one by product or another. - nb Valuble byproduct.
Stage three sees further selection of spp with a view to extraction of toxic and later usefull compounds from the waste stream - now a valuable resource. - Phytomining .
This resource will be carrying in a prcentage of all the minerals, nutrients and manufactured compounds including some very toxic that are now almost without exception finding their way to ocean outfalls here in Aus and much more commonly on a world stage into the next downstram populations water supply.
This third stage would be sited at the various "billabong sited along the canal.
Each of these little labs charged with assurring the suitability for next use. Packing and marketing of their component and even the sale or further product development
This would leave a high quality water ready for reintroduction for downstream use or further treatment as necessary for
general consumption or possibly a reverse osmosis membrane or other technology applied able high quality supply.
This model demonstrates multiple testing steps wich should assure consistant quality assurance.

The seuestration of CO2 is not to be measured as such bu any study in that context will reveal a 50% saving if CO2 is removed from flue gas( we dont know how much can be absorbed without further vstudy and spp. analysis)
This 50% figure is derived from the fact that the CO2 gets to go around again.

Students from the local high scools, colleges, prisons, universities or regular council employees would all be capable of understanding the system and the particlar aspect they are resposible for.
Much like the local sanitation boards are now.

All Criticism Welcome.


sky sails is amazing technology. Well developed innovation no masts needed (aside from the launch telescope mast) , easily retrofit , computer automated kite. I observe the kite design is a very modern aerofoil so it wont stall , can steer and move very fast and will get tremendous haulage capacity at low speeds where a sail would be useless (i kiteboard and assure you unlike a windsurfer kiteboards have massive low speed torque)
Someone asked about
compared to this design offhand comparing the kite alone the skysails sale is aerodynamically superior, add the autopilot and electronics it's a self contained engine system !
Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes this technology can potentially save billions in fuel and C02 emmisions hope to see it everywhere oneday soon.

Dave Naughton
Sales Executive
56 Church Hill Street
Fairfield, CT 06824
(203) 254.9639 •

Summary Seasoned professional, focused on proven and profitable relationships with the Fortune 500 and international corporate entities…

Experience Advanced Glazings, Ltd., Nova Scotia, Canada
Enterprise Account Manager (2006 – 2007) AGL manufactures architectural glazing products that diffuse direct and indirect sunlight into commercial space, creating soft illumination, controlling glare, eliminating or significantly reducing need for artificial lighting. Result: companies save up to 50% on lighting costs. “Green Technology,” called “Daylighting,” delivers soothing natural light which increases retail sales, productivity, health and well-being.
• Developed key relationships with Fortune 500 management, international engineering and architectural teams, including GE and PepsiCo.
• Established 43 strategic relationships that resulted in 10 projects in excess of $400,000 and an additional 13 projects in excess of $750,000 in the pipeline.
• Crafted key sales and customer policies that became directive.
• Assisted in the development of marketing materials based on my extensive background.
International Source for Ergonomics ,Toronto, Canada (2000 – 2006)
National Account Manager
ISE manufactures ergonomic products that physically balance employees in their workplace, promoting productivity, health, and well-being. Six years of negotiating national contracts, sales management, and bio-mechanic education.

ISE's ergonomic equipment and tools along with my demonstrated expertise in biomechanics and workflow management have yielded a direct return on investment by reducing injury (fewer insurance claims, loss days), increasing productivity by decreasing "Non-Productive Work-Departures." Reducing static muscle fatigue changes the body’s chemistry keeping employees on task for longer periods of time.
• Duties included: Architectural presentations, contract negotiations, management coordination, measuring goals, and performance.
• Designed a web based evaluation program that allowed companies such as PepsiCo and MetLife to manage issues and complaints on a real-time basis, saving companies money and increasing morale do to management’s response time. 80% of complaints can be serviced on-line. .

• Managed national office furniture manufacturers (e.g., Steelcase, Herman Miller, Hayworth, etc.) regarding contract negotiations, logistics, procurement, and installations.
• Team member in the successful acquisition of ErgoSystems, Inc., one of ISE’s largest competitors. Consulted in the value of management, employees, product mix, and sales network.
Workrite Ergonomics, Novato, CA (1998—2000)
Regional Sales Representative
• Strengthened sales presence for a predominantly West Coast Company.
• Increased sales in northeast by 53% in the first six months.
• Contracted directly with large corporations, national office furniture manufacturers, and architectural firms delivering products and services with proven results in productivity gains, reducing insurance cost, reduced complaints by balancing people through "bio-mechanics." Measured employee performance through "KeyStroke Analysis," which tracks sub- conscience electronic impulses on the keyboard, mouse, and phone which resulted in documented productivity gains.
ErgoSystems, Inc. (1997-1998)
Regional Sales Representative
• Established major accounts in the CT, NY, and NJ area. Increased sales by 32% in the first 6 months.
• Team member in establishing one of the most recognized ergonomic studies to date, entitled, "Static Muscle Fatigue," by Marvin Danoff, PhD, a leading expert in ergonomics and biomechanics. Study proves that “Unproductive Work Departures” can be dramatically reduced through biomechanics.
XO Systems, Inc. (1995-1997), Director, Sales & Product Development
• Directed sales and product development serving handicapped persons and patients with unique products retrofitting to standard wheelchairs, surgical beds and recovery rooms. Product reduced stress by positioning the body through biomechanics.
• Executive, instrumental in raising $1.2 million in working capital from NY State and a private investment consortium.

Education • El Camino College, Torrance, California; Palos Verdes High School, Palos Verdes Estates, California.

Computer Tools • Applications: Microsoft Office; Microsoft Outlook Express, Excel, PowerPoint, Ariba, Internet presentations and research. Operating Systems: Windows, Windows XP, Windows NT.

Correct sail design will increase propulsion efficiency
to a degree where fuel ( solid or liquid ) would only
be required for port facilities and make oil available
for lubrication and other minor needs. oil will lose
it,s position in the world market as an energy fuel,
especially in the shipping industry using meteorological tracking technology. the use of wind
driven turbines aboard would modernise the world,s fleet

It's true in Europe it'll be a solution

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