“We can once again actually ‘sail’ with cargo ships, thus opening a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping”
Thus is the verdict from MV Beluga Skysails captain Lutz Heldt upon completion of the vessel’s 12,000 mile round-trip maiden voyage. The crew and vessel were at sea for nearly two months, giving the “skysail” concept ample opportunity for testing and tweaking.
The journey took the ship from Germany to Venezuela, the United States, and then to Norway, arriving on March 13.
We’ve been keeping an eye on the ship’s progress here at Triple Pundit, from initial concept, sea trials, and now the round-trip completion of her first commercial voyage using the hybrid auxiliary power kite system installed on the Beluga Skysails.
Deployment of the 160–square-meter towing kite offset up to 20% of the engine’s power (and carbon emissions), saving an initial $1000 per day in fuel costs.
Future testing and plans for the system will focus on extending flight times and performance of the sail, as well as implementing a sail twice the size of the current one deployed on the Skysails. With the larger sail, savings of up to $2000 per day is possible, as well as further reduction in carbon emissions.
If all continues to go as well as it has, the Skysail concept will help usher in a new and innovative chapter in shipping.