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Maersk, Shell, Norsepower, ETI announce wind-powered tanker project

London — A group of companies including shipping giant Maersk and Shell has announced successful trials of a wind-powered product tanker.

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The group, comprising Maersk Tankers, Norsepower Oy Ltd., Energy Technologies and Shell International Trading, tested two rotor sails. These are large cylindrical mechanical sails that spin to create a pressure differential -- the Magnus Effect -- that propels the vessel forward, Norsepower said in a press release.

The rotor sails deliver auxiliary wind propulsion to the vessel, which has operated in conditions ranging from tropical temperatures to the Arctic, the press release said.

The Long Range 2 product tanker Maersk Pelican saw a reduction in fuel consumption. The Rotor Sails were installed onboard Maersk Pelican in August 2018. As part of the test, the aggregated total fuel saved from 1 September 2018 to 1 September 2019 was 8.2%. This is equivalent to approximately 1,400 tonnes of CO2, Norsepower said.

Photo courtesy of Norsepower

"With the Maersk Pelican, there are three vessels in daily commercial operation using Norsepower's Rotor Sails demonstrating the widespread opportunity to harness the wind through Rotors Sails across the maritime industry," Norsepower CEO Tuomas Riski said.

In a simulation model, Norsepower showed that the installed Rotor Sails operating in global average wind conditions of all shipping routes yield a savings potential up to 12% on fuel and emissions, including CO2.

Based on the same simulation model, Norsepower estimates that applying Rotor Sail technology to the entire global tanker fleet would reduce annual CO2 emissions by more than 30 million mt, which corresponds to emissions of about 15 million passenger cars.

The UN's International Maritime Organization has set targets that include a 50% cut in the shipping sector's GHG emissions by 2050 compared with 2008. The International Chamber of Shipping said in February this can only be met by developing carbon-free technology for the industry.

--Tom Washington, thomas.washington@spglobal.com

--Edited by James Burgess, james.burgess@spglobal.com