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Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Maersk tanker to test wind propulsion

Fri 17 Mar 2017 by Paul Fanning

Maersk tanker to test wind propulsion
An illustration of the Maersk P-class product tanker with two Norsepower Rotor Sails

Finland’s Norsepower, Maersk Tankers, the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime have announced that Flettner rotor sails are to be installed and trialled on board a Maersk Tankers owned vessel.

The project will be the first installation of wind-powered energy technology on a product tanker vessel, and will provide insights into fuel savings and operational experience. The rotor sails will be fitted during the first half of 2018, before undergoing testing and data analysis at sea until the end of 2019.

Maersk Tankers will supply a 109,647 dwt LR2 product tanker vessel which will be retrofitted with two 30m tall, 5m diameter Norsepower Rotor Sails. Combined, these are expected to reduce average fuel consumption on typical global shipping routes by 7-10 per cent.

The project is majority funded by the ETI with contributions from Maersk Tankers and Norsepower. Shell will act as project co-ordinator and provide operational and terminal and port consultancy to the project team. Maersk Tankers will provide technical and operational insight.

The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernised version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. Each Rotor Sail is made using the latest intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials, and offers a simple yet robust hi-tech solution. When wind conditions are favourable, the main engines can be throttled back, providing a net saving in fuel costs and emissions, without affecting the vessel’s schedule. Independent experts will analyse the data gathered from the project before publishing technical and operational insights, and performance studies.

Commenting on the partnership, Norsepower chief executive Tuomas Riski said: “We are privileged and excited to be collaborating with Maersk Tankers, Shell, and the ETI on this project. We are optimistic that support for this trial from these industry-leading organisations will open up the market for our technology to a larger number of long-range product tanker vessels – paving the way for ship fuel efficiencies, and ultimately reducing emissions, including greenhouse gases. As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets.”

Tommy Thomassen, Maersk Tankers chief technical officer, explained: “Together with our partners, we have the opportunity to deploy an innovative technology that can improve fuel efficiency on our LR2 product tanker vessels and help to reduce their environmental impact. We look forward to contributing to the project, and sharing our decades of experience and knowledge within safety and tanker operations.”

Karrie Trauth, technology and innovation general manager for Shell Shipping & Maritime, commented: “At Shell, we believe that innovation and technology are key elements to improving the efficiency and environmental performance of shipping operations. We look forward to using our shipping and technical expertise to support this trial.”

Andrew Scott, ETI’s programme manager for marine, heavy duty vehicles and offshore renewable energy, added:“Flettner rotors have the potential to reduce ship fuel consumption substantially, especially on tankers and dry bulk carriers. It is one of the few fuel saving technologies that could offer double digit percentage improvements. To date, there has been insufficient full scale demonstration on a suitable ocean-going marine vessel to prove the technology benefits and operational impact. Demonstrating the technology in this project will make it more attractive to shipping companies and investors, and could play a significant role in reducing the fuel costs and improving the environmental impact of shipping in the future.”

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