New Study Shows Wind Technologies Provide "Significant" Potential for Power Savings in Shipping

Thursday January 12, 2017

A new study, commissioned by DG Climate Action and completed by CE Delft, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Fraunhofer ISI, and Chalmers University of Technology, suggests wind technologies, including Flettner rotors, wingsails, and towing kites, can have "significant" potential for power savings in commercial marine applications.

The study, which examined the use of wind-assisted propulsion for commercial shipping, is noted to have been aimed at identifying challenges to the adoption of wind propulsion technologies, as well as possible solutions to address such challenges.

"Many innovative wind propulsion technology concepts have been and are being developed for commercial shipping. However, none of the technologies has reached market maturity yet," explained CE Delft.

The study is also said to have been intended to estimate the market and emissions savings potential of the wind propulsion technologies, and to determine economic and social impacts associated with such market potential.

The study developed models to test different wind propulsion technologies' power savings across six sample ships at two different speeds.

"An important finding is that absolute savings are larger at the higher voyage speed for the wingsail and the rotor for all ship types considered," noted CE Delft.

The models demonstrated that savings achieved by Flettner rotors and wingsails were comparable, gleaning 5-18 percent savings in a high speed scenario, with "relative savings on the larger ships exceeding those on the smaller ships, especially for bulk carriers."

Towing kites showed relative savings of 1-9 percent in a high speed scenario, while savings from wind turbines were shown to be the lowest among the technologies compared in the study, demonstrating 1-2 percent savings in a high speed scenario.

"An important finding is that absolute savings are larger at the higher voyage speed for the wingsail and the rotor for all ship types considered," explains CE Delft.

The study estimates that, if wind propulsion technologies for ships reach marketability in 2020 - depending on the bunker fuel price, the speed of the vessels, and the discount rate applied - maximum market could reach 3,700–10,700 installed systems until 2030 across bulk carriers, tankers, and container vessels, including retrofits and newbuild installations.

"The use of these wind propulsion systems would then lead to CO2 savings of around 3.5–7.5 mt CO2 in 2030," concluded the study.