At the end of January, we wrote about the Beluga Skysails, a commercial cargo ship that was testing the use of giant kites as auxiliary power - a kind of hybrid wind/fossil-fuels system.
We're pleased to learn that the Beluga Skysails trip was successful: The ship set sail (literally) to Venezuela from Germany on January 22nd and reached the Norwegian port of Mo-I-Rana on March 13th after traveling a total of 11,952 nautical miles. "In even moderate winds, the first flights of an initial 160-square-meter towing kite propulsion system from the Hamburg-based manufacturer SkySails demonstrated how this innovative auxiliary propulsion system was able to substitute for 20% of the engine's power." After the pilot phase, the towing kite will be replaced by one that is twice the size, providing twice as much energy and saving twice the fuel (which could mean $2000/day).
The shipping company will be giving part of these [fuel] savings — 20 percent — directly to the crew as an incentive. Kites with a sail surface of up to 600 square meters will be used on two larger Beluga P-Series carriers that are to be outfitted with SkySails-Systems in the future. Currently under construction, each vessel will have 20,000 tons deadweight and on-board cranes with a lifting capacity of 800 to 1,400 tons.
For more details, see our previous post: First Transatlantic Voyage of Kite-powered Ship.