Kites are no longer just for leisurely days at the beach. A promising enviro-enterprise to watch, KiteShip is a wind-power-tech company proposing the use of massive sea kites to reduce the amount of fuel used by commercial freighters. And recently, company executives have announced a potential partnership with four shipping companies to build a $2 million, 13,000-square-foot kite to help haul ships as large as 400 feet long. The huge kite would cut fuel costs drastically, making the gas-guzzling commercial shipping industry a little greener.
KiteShip already has a successful track record of using kites to help power pleasure yachts. They also built the world’s largest sailing kite in 1997 as well as holding the Guinness world records for the largest vessel pulled by a kite and the largest kite to pull a land vehicle. They have recently applied their know-how to possible green solutions for powering tankers and ocean going vessels.
It is estimated that the wind power from the 13,000-square-foot kite would allow a typical commercial ship to cut fuel costs by 10% to 20% without sacrificing speed. For an average ship, that would translate into $400,000 in savings per year. The EU has formally acknowledged that shipping may contribute to as much as 5% of global CO2 emissions – an alarming statistic given that ships also carry 90% of world trade.
It is our hope that in addition to reducing rampant fuel consumption and C02 output, technologies such as KiteShip might ultimately serve as greener alternatives to the petroleum powered vessels and tankers that currently dominate our already over-taxed seas.