Wind-Powered Freighter Crossing the Atlantic
Admittedly, we are a bit late to this story, but better late than never.
Beluga Group equiped a shipping freighter with a sail, specifically a SkySail, a parachute-shaped sail that is the size of a football field. The Ship, MS Beluga SkySails, departed on its first trans-Atlantic voyage earlier in the week. According to Beluga and SkySail, a ship‘s fuel costs can be reduced by 10- 35% on annual average, depending on wind conditions. Under optimal wind conditions, fuel consumption can temporarily be reduced by up to 50%.
During the fuel crisis of the 1970s, the idea of adding sails to fuel-powered freighters to reduce costs was floated around, but the technology wasn't available to make it work. Even earlier, in 1966, the DynaRig, a modern version of a square-rig, was conceived in Germany as a means to add sails to freighters, but it was never tested because the technology wasn't available to make the masts. Fast forward 35 years and this is a viable option. In addition to the SkySail, the DynaRig is the powerplant behind Tom Perkins' 288-foot Maltese Falcon.
The fact that the SkySail technology can be easily adapted to most cargo ships leads us to believe that we'll start to see more creative wind-powered solutions to help the world's shipping fleets reduce costs.