Maersk Tankers: Wind Propulsion Technology Could Take Us to a New Playing Field

Thursday August 30, 2018

Maersk Tankers will test a Flettner rotor-based wind propulsion system to help cut bunker consumption in what will no doubt be seen as a major endorsement for the technology.

Two Rotor Sail units from Norsepower Oy Ltd. have been installed on LR2 product tanker Maersk Pelican in the port of Rotterdam, with the first wind-assisted voyage set to commence shortly.

It is expected that fuel consumption and associated emissions will be reduced by 7-10% on typical global shipping routes, which for the Maersk Pelican that will likely mean savings of 2.5 to 3.5 mt/day when steaming, or some $1,000 to $1,500 per day in dollar terms at today's HFO prices.

The cost to install the sails was not revealed.

"This project is breaking ground in the product tanker industry," said Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer, Maersk Tankers.

"While the industry has gone through decades of technological development, the use of wind propulsion technology onboard a product tanker vessel could take us to a new playing field. This new technology has the potential to help the industry be more cost-competitive as it moves cargoes around the world for customers and to reduce the environmental impact."

First developed by Anton Flettner in the 1920's, the technology uses the Magnus effect for propulsion.

With the Shipping industry this year having pledged to reduced GHG emissions at least 50% compared to 2008 levels as part of its IMO 2050 goals, in the coming years wind technology is tipped to once again be an important marine propulsion technology.

Maersk Pelican is the third vessel to install the technology in recent months, with Viking Line in May completing the installation of a rotor sail on Viking Grace, followed in June with the installation of an EcoFlettner rotor on the multi-purpose freighter MV Fehn Pollux.