The big day has finally come. After years of testing and development, and recent media build-up, a kite-powered cargo ship has hit the high seas on the first transatlantic voyage from Bremershaven (Hamburg), Germany to Guanta, Venezuela. The 160m2 SkySail kite wafting over the cargo at the bow of the 132m Multi Purpose Heavy Lift Carrier MS “Beluga SkySails" is a beautiful sight. For a tour of the best video links to see a new day in shipping dawn, see overleaf.To see the ship in full daylight on the open seas, with interviews, check out the Der Spiegel Online SkySails video. The audio is in German, but translations of the key interviews are included below.
If you are patient and/or value beauty, SkySails Maiden Voyage video linkshows impressive, but less well edited, footage of the launch of the SkySail. The first minute of video shows the ship leaving port at night, against the lights of Hamburg. The SkySail kite makes its first appearance about 2:40 into the stream.
Translations of relevant points in the Spiegel TV report:
Stephan Wrage, Managing Director of SkySails: "In the beginning we were just really laughed at. Today, they say only 'that was really foresightful,' that we started development already back then. And wind is always cheaper than oil. The resource costs, the raw material costs, the fuel prices have developed so dramatically; we can really make significant savings."
Ship's Captain Lutz Held: "A ship like this can, for example, reduce the emissions; that means, we are not emitting so much CO2 into the air as other ships. And the transport sector as a whole will prevent enormous amounts of emissions."
Stephan Brabeck, Technical Manager of SkySails: "It's about, on the one hand, saving fuel, which of course makes the ship owners happy and is the reason they installed the system; and on the other hand, it is ecological, that means we are saving resources, less fuel is used, fewer emissions are released from the ships and in this way the environment is protected."
In addition to describing the SkySails system, which TreeHugger readers already know from earlier articles on Beluga and SkySails, the video reports that fuels savings can reach 50%, but this reflects optimal conditions. Actual savings are projected at 10 to 35%, depending on conditions and the type of ship. Nonetheless, this can represent savings of $1000/day in fuel costs, which can easily justify the $500,000 cost of the Sky Sail even if ecological impacts are disregarded. A win-win situation so to speak.