Wind Power on the High Seas

The high cost of oil might just spur cargo ships to return to wind power—using kites, rather than sails.

According to a recent CNN article, trailing a kite behind ships could save between 10 and 35 percent on fuel costs, and in ideal wind conditions those savings could be as high as 50 percent.

Using less fuel would save shipping companies money, but could also lessen the industry’s contribution to climate change.

Recent studies on the environmental effects of shipping have revealed that marine diesel engines have a greater impact than previously thought. As well as releasing nitrogen oxides and damaging PM10 particles into the atmosphere, burning marine diesel oils also contains 2.7 percent sulfur, which is over 500 times the EU’s allowed limit for diesel automobiles.

One of the kite technology companies, Hamburg-based SkySails, believes that applying its technology shipping could save more than 146 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Gives the old saying “go fly a kite” a whole new meaning.