Maersk Tankers in wind power project

Danish owner teams with Shell and others to see if rotor sails can deliver fuel savings.

 Wind power is making a return at Danish shipping group Maersk for the first time sincethe early1900s.

Maersk Tankers has teamed with Shell, The Energy Technologies Institute and Norsepower Oy in a pilot project that could see fuel bills cut by up to10%.

Two Flettner rotorsails will be fitted to a Maersk Tankers Liang Rrange II (LR2) vessel in the first half of next year and will be trialed through until the end of 2019.

Tommy Thomassen, chief technical officer at Maersk Tankers, says the owner has been investigating how it could make use of both wind and solar power solutions on vessels for many years. However, this is the first technology it has found that is suitable for larger vessels.

Unlike some rival wind-powered projects in the modern era, the rotor sailswill not be restricted in their use at sea.

"Wind is of course a precondition, but other than that the technology is fairly simple and easy to operate once installed compared to other technologies," said Thomassen.

He explained that once the rotor sails are in place they are expected to contribute to reduced fuel consumption and emissions performance throughout the voyage.

One potential limitation he sees for the 30 meter tall cylindrical rotors is in accessing certain ports and terminals. Part of the test is to assess this further and find solutions.

Maersk Tankers says fuel savings on typical global shipping routes is expected to be between 7% and10%. Thomassen describes the estimate as conservative and notes any benefits would be environmental as well as economic.

Should the pilot project, funded by The Energy Technologies Institute, prove successful, Thomassen says the rotors could be rolled out on the company's LRII, LRI and MR tankers.

While the present technology is not suitable for its smaller tankers, it could still be applied to more than half of the company's ships.

Andrew Scott of The Energy Technologies Institute says the technology can bring double-digit percentage improvements, particularlyon tankers and bulk carriers.

Tuomas Riski, chief executive of Norsepower, says the rotors have been tested on a ro-ro in the North Sea since 2014 and have achieved fuel savings of more than 6%.

However, the Maersk project will be the first time the technology has been used on a tanker and Riski believes it could be applied on even larger ships.

"There is no limit on upscaling," he said. "You would simply add more rotors.''



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