Flettner rotor sails will be installed and trialled on board a Maersk Tankers-owned vessel, marking the first installation of wind-powered energy technology on a product tanker vessel.

The rotor sails will be fitted during the first half of 2018, before undergoing testing and data analysis at sea until the end of 2019, in an initiative by Norsepower Oy Ltd, Maersk Tankers, the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), and Shell Shipping & Maritime.

Maersk Tankers will supply a 109,647-deadweight tonne (DWT) Long Range 2 (LR2) product tanker vessel which will be retrofitted with two 30m-tall by 5m-diameter Norsepower Rotor Sails.

Norsepower’s fuel-efficient technology is expected to save 7-10% in fuel consumption and associated emissions.

The project is majority funded by ETI with contributions from Maersk Tankers and Norsepower.

Shell will act as project coordinator, and provide operational and terminal or port consultancy to the project team, while Maersk Tankers will provide technical and operational insight.

Tuomas Riski, Norsepower CEO, said: ‘We are privileged and excited to be collaborating with Maersk Tankers, Shell, and the ETI on this project. We are optimistic that support for this trial from these industry leading organisations will open up the market for our technology to a larger number of long-range product tanker vessels – paving the way for ship fuel efficiencies, and ultimately reducing emissions, including greenhouse gases.

‘As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets.’

Flettner rotor project group

Flettner rotor project group

Andrew Scott, programme manager HDV marine and offshore renewable energy, the ETI, added: ‘Flettner rotors have the potential to reduce ship fuel consumption substantially, especially on tankers and dry bulk carriers.

‘It is one of the few fuel-saving technologies that could offer double-digit percent age improvements. To date, there has been insufficient full scale demonstration on a suitable ocean going marine vessel to prove the technology benefits and operational impact. Demonstrating the technology in this project will make it more attractive to shipping companies and investors, and could play a significant role in reducing the fuel costs and improving the environmental impact of shipping in the future.’

The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernised version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. Each Rotor Sail is made using the latest intelligent lightweight composite sandwich materials, and offers a simple yet robust hi-tech solution. When wind conditions are favourable, the main engines can be throttled back, providing a net fuel cost and emission savings, while not impacting scheduling.

Independent experts will analyse the data gathered from the project before publishing technical and operational insights, and performance studies.