Abigail Doan

POWER YOUR BOAT WITH KITES: Wind Power by KiteShip

by , 10/23/07

Kiteship sea kite power commercial shipping energy saving fuel consumption Business Week Green Tech

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.

+ KiteShip

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17 Comments

  1. Simon Herren July 31, 2011 at 4:27 am

    Nice post! GA can be my greatest earning. Nonetheless, it is not a significantly.
    thanks !! very helpful submit!
    amazing stuff thanx

  2. Tane55 August 1, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    We have to do all we can to reduce our dependence and carbon emissions.
    Yeh we could just sail, this idea allows the retrofit of existing vessels. If we try to do it and expierment we may stumble on a easier way. Edison took hundreds of trys to get the light bulb to work. And we have improved that idea hundreds of times.

  3. dsteven53 April 29, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    The power of a high altitude kite and the directional advantage plus the lower center of effort will make both control and handling an advantage! I can hardly wait to power my own fossil dependant craft with a kite.
    TX Dave

  4. Our Tough Nature »... October 29, 2007 at 10:25 am

    [...] read more | digg story [...]

  5. Kurtu5 October 25, 2007 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t think launching and retrieving will be that hard. Especially if you notice that its attached to a lighter than air balloon.

    Since its unmanned, hydrogen gas would do quite nice to keep it aloft. H2is not rally that dangerous, the Hindenburg looked bad, but many survived, and since H2 is way cheaper than He, is seems the obvious choice.

    Additionally you could reel in the wings into a two small holding bays, around the bay that the balloon then gets reeled into and the gas could get pumped out and compressed into a storage tank. To deploy, fill the gas bag, and let it lift the kite to desired altitude, then put the correct tension on the wings so they inflate. Fin. You might need 3 or 4 crewmen to do this.

  6. Michael October 24, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    The challenges of launching and retrieving a 13000 square foot kite from a moving ship as well as controlling a kite that large is nothing to sneeze at.
    Superficially it resembles a spinnaker, but spinnakers are not able to fly on long lines so that they can catch the stronger steadier winds hundreds of feet up or be flown in a huge arc to increase the power of the pull.
    You could say it is just a scaled up version of a kitesurfing kite, but the pull on the lines is several thousands of pounds as opposed to maybe 200 (peak).

    In short this is really difficult stuff or people would have successfully done it years ago, but they have not because the technology and materials were not up to it.

  7. Week 43 del.icio.us lin... October 24, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    [...] POWER YOUR BOAT WITH KITES – Wind Power by KiteShip – Inhabitat.Com [...]

  8. Kim October 24, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Using kites is a relatively new idea. Don’t think many of you are sailors or engineers. Kite sails have only become possible with new materials technology. Kite sails don’t use masts so the effective power is much more direct. You don’t end up tipping the boat as the power goes up, thereby losing power. You don’t have the centre of force of the wind a third or so of the way up the mast but right on deck. It is a significant gain in efficiency which is why it is banned in most sail races. If it were possible to use it mechanically, commercially it could be a great gain. That said the most efficient kite sails would probably not be the spinnker type but airfoil type like the centre picture.

  9. Bengt October 24, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Even using something that floats on water is a very old idea. Should we ditch boats for the same reason? One of the biggest problem sail ships had as transporters was the huge crew demand. With some sort of automatic sail this is no longer an issue.

  10. J October 24, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    so what if it’s an old idea. Old doesn’t mean bad. When was the last time you saw an ocean liner using sails? I think its great that a company is making these and that people are getting behind it. This is the first time I have commented on this site, but I couldn’t hold back any more. Many of you are so cynical I often wonder why you even come to this site. Just be happy that someone, if not making progress, is at least learning from the past.

  11. Marty October 24, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Read the article… while it may be a sail… there is nothing new about a 13,000-square-foot kite…

  12. LD October 24, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Yes, it is an adaptation of an old concept but what the Hell !

  13. cate dunn October 24, 2007 at 10:48 am

    is this serious? everyone realizes that this is a modified sailboat, and not a new idea….at all?

  14. Chat Marchet News Diges... October 24, 2007 at 10:44 am

    [...] Read the full story… This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 at 11:12 am and is filed under le Chat Marchet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

  15. Sailkish October 24, 2007 at 10:38 am

    They’ve had this technology for years. Decades. Centuries. It’s called a ‘sail’. I’m sorry for being so sarcastic but I cannot believe that some company is actually trying to push this as a ‘new’ idea! This is just a spinnaker on a long line for metal ships. Wow. This is old tech rediscovered, nothing new.

  16. Akuma October 24, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Holy Crap, when did masts start working again?!

  17. sail October 24, 2007 at 9:54 am

    This is not really new. Sailing has been around for centuries. Those kites are basically just giant spinnakers.

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