The International Maritime Organization (IMO) environment meeting in April approved proposed amendments to reduce harmful emissions from ships, according to the article in the IMO News Magazine, “IMO Environment Meeting Approves Revised Regulations on Ship Emissions.” The IMO is a UN agency responsible for maritime safety and protecting the seas. The main changes proposed would see progressive reductions in sulphur oxide emissions from ships. The sulphur limit will begin at 1.00 percent, reduced from the current 1.50, and applies to emission control areas beginning in 2020. Subsequent reductions are also outlined for 2025.
These requirements to significantly reduce emissions to safeguard the climate are pushing shipping companies to find alternatives such as wind propulsion systems and traction kites.
SkySails Wind Power
The SkySails systems, which use large towing kites for the propulsion of the ship, have three main components: a towing kite with rope, a launch and recovery system, and a control system for automatic operation, according to the SkySails company information Web page.
The system works with the main engine as well as works as relief for the main engine. It’s possible for the system to reduce average annual fuel costs by up to 35 percent and fuel consumption cut by up to 50 percent. The company claims that “virtually all existing cargo vessels and new builds can be retro- or outfitted with the SkySails auxiliary wind propulsion system.”
KiteShip’s Kite Power
California-based KiteShip offers the shipping industry a way to reduce the CO2, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous dioxide released into the atmosphere, as well as reduce cargo ship fuel consumption by up to 25 percent, says Terry McSweeney in his article for KBO-TV San Francisco, “New Wind Power Tech Could Change Cargo Shipping.” KiteShip produces huge kites, roughly the size of a football field, that are big enough to help move cargo ships and oil tankers. These kites work together with a vessel’s engine to conserve fuel.
Tethered Flight Solutions More Cradle-to-Cradle
These tethered flight solutions are a more cradle-to-cradle environmental solution than installing systems that reduce emissions and cleanse exhaust gas. Obtaining catalytic converter systems is expensive and, according to the Skysails-for-Cargo-Ships page at SkySails.com, they “raise fuel consumption by about 3 percent because of increased resistance in the exhaust line.” The cleaning systems also generate a highly toxic residue that must be disposed of when the ship is at port. The cost involved in designing, fitting, and building vessels with conventional masted sails is what makes kites a better option. The cost of redesigning existing vessels for a masted sail solution is expensive and time-consuming. The kite solutions from companies such as SkySails and KiteShip allow vessels to be retro-fitted efficiently and economically.