With the cost (both financial and environmental) of fuel these days, everyone is trying to cut back in whatever ways they can. If you’re talking boats, you can always go solar or electric to cut emissions, but one German fishing boat called the Maartje Theadora decided to take a slightly different route – flying a giant blue and white kite from their craft to harness trade winds and help power their engine. The idea may sound elementary to some, but according to the operators of the ship, the “system” is expected to cut fuel consumption by 10% and up to 30% in the next two years of development. Since global fisheries account for about 1% of world oil consumption and emit more than 130 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere per year, this kite system sounds like smoother and greener sailing to us!
So how does the system work? A 160 square meter blue and white kite (sort of like a paraglider) pulls the ship on a 300 meter rope when the wind blows. The method isn’t novel by any means – essentially the idea is the same as a regular old sailboat. However, while some cargo ships already use the system, dubbed SkySails, the Maartje Theadora will be the first fishing boat to do so.
Of the expected challenges, Diederik Parlevliet, head of fishing firm Parlevliet & Van der Plas, operator of the ship said, “The challenge for us is to see how it works during trawling, because then the ship is not moving from A to B but it’s turning and moving around.”
According to Parlevliet, the SkySails system is expected to cut the fishing boat’s fuel consumption by approx. 10% in the first phase of the project and are projected to increase to up to 30%. The giant kite has the ability to add 1,000 kilowatts (kW) of power to the Maartje Theadora’s 8,000 kW engine.