A french renewable energy startup – Airseas – is seeking to revolutionise cargo ships with kite power. The idea is to harness wind power to help reduce the shipping industry huge carbon footprint.
The company is set to test its technology in early 2022 with real-world trials of Seawing – a 5,380 square foot parafoil kite.
Seawing will be attached to the Ville de Bordeaux – a 505-foot ship – for a six month period before the ship returns to its regular shipping route.
The technology isn’t the same as a typical sail. The kite is not attached to the deck of the ship but instead flies high above the ship dragging it behind it. This means that it can be retrofitted to fit any kind of ship.
The company wants to roll out its technology to 10% of the world shipping fleet by the end of the decade. This could have a positive effect on the climate crisis as the 50,000 ships that currently transport 80% of the world’s goods are powered by ‘bunker fuel’. It is estimated this spits out 2% of the worlds total carbon emissions and 10-15% of the worlds nitrous oxide and sulfur oxide pollution.
The kite wouldn’t completely replace the ship’s engines but instead, try to increase fuel economy on the vessels by using wind power alongside traditional propulsion. The company believes the tech can reduce fuel consumption by 20%.
The technology is easy to fit and can be rolled out quickly so even a modest increase in fuel economy could make a large difference to emissions globally.