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A new age of sail to dawn in 2019?

A new age of sail to dawn in 2019?
Although the notion of putting sails back on to ships as a way of saving fuel has been around for decades now, and indeed has been done with the likes of skysails, it is not every day we see a plan to turn an entire ship into a single giant sail. The innovative Vindskip design promises to do just that, by using its unique shape to turn the wind to its advantage.

Norwegian design house Lade AS claims the vessel saves 60% on fuel, and reduces emissions by a factor of 80%. Some astonishing, if nonspecific, figures. Intrigued by the prospect Seatrade Global asked Lade AS manager Terje Lade to clarify some of the details.

"The reference ship is a so-called PCTC (pure car and truck carrier), with installed power of 17,000 kW, speed of 19.1 knots, and displacement of 37 000 tons," Lade explains.

“When it was launched, the particulars with regard to [empty] draft were 3.22 m fore and 7.34 m aft. Due to the weight of the main engine… they have to fill it up with forward ballast to make it even and also to stabilize the ship. To carry 6,000 cars, they have to fill up the reference ship with in average 4900 tons of ballast.

The Vindskip design, however, has a completely even 7 m-fore by 7 m-aft draft, Lade explains, with a displacement of 27,000 tons. “It can carry about 6,500 cars and the need for ballast is less than 500 tons.

”Crucially, however, it can run at the same service speed of 19.1 knots despite only having  9000 kw of installed power, courtesy of a specially formulated LNG propulsion system designed by Rolls-Royce.

“The difference in displacement is due to the ballast and the heavy machinery on the reference ship,” says Lade. Lade compared the fuel consumption figures for the reference PCTC with its own design, over a 23-day voyage from Japan to Chile.

“Due to its high fuel consumption, you can’t run the reference ship on LNG, due to the volume of the needed LNG which will in turn take volume from the cargo,” says Lade.“The ship must have enough bunkers to steam for 70 days… this is no problem with Vindskip.”

Lade calculated that, assuming the reference ship ran on 3.5% sulphur HFO, savings on the 23-day voyage would amount to 670 tons, amounting to 2.2m kg of CO2, 61,200 kg of NOx, and 34,000 kg of Sulphur, along with the elimination of black carbon and particulates associated with the use of LNG.

“DNV GL has performed a so called GAP-analysis, and an Intact and Damage stability study on Vindskip. Their conclusion is clear, this is feasible.”

The group intends for the vessel to hit the waves as early as 2019, forming a new dedicated shipowning company, and constructing and running the vessel through an existing third-party management company.

“The Vindskip development project will be finished by 4Q 2015, and we would estimate that the engineering and construction will take approximately two to three years. Regarding the building cost, this is greatly depending of the Shipowners’ Tender Specification which has not been issued yet.”

Lade indicates that the biggest driver for uptake of his vessel will be the worldwide 0.5% sulphur limit which will come into force between 2020 and 2025. “The impact of this is so big that we can’t quite foresee it yet.”

It remains to be seen whether the age of sail – or rather, of the windship – will be the answer.