Viking Line Adds Wind Power To Passenger Ship, Cutting Fuel Consumption

Viking Line Viking Grace passenger ship
(Photo Credit: Mattias Andersson, Flickr Creative Commons)

In a World’s first, Viking Line equipped its passenger ship Viking Grace with a rotor sail for wind power. The rotor sail developed by Finnish company Norsepower is expected to cut fuel consumption and also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 900 metric tons annually.

The cylindrical rotor sail that was installed on the passenger ship is nearly 79 feet high, approximately 13 feet in diameter, and uses the Magnus effect for propulsion, according to Viking Line. “As the rotor is spinning, the passing air will flow with a lower pressure on one side than the opposite side,” the company says. “The propulsion force created by this pressure difference will drive the vessel forward.”

Norsepower’s rotor sail system is automated and will shut down if there are disadvantageous changes in the wind’s force or direction, the company says. The total annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions depends in part on wind conditions.

The Viking Grace has been operational since 2013, fueled by liquefied natural gas. Viking Line says calls it one of the most ecological passenger ships in the world given its low emissions and noise levels. The company started operating the Viking Grace on wind-assisted voyages between Turku in Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, this week.

Besides the rotor sail, Viking Line plans to use wind propulsion in the company’s new vessel being built in China for operation in 2020. This vessel will be equipped with two Norsepower mechanical rotor sails, doubling the wind power potential, the shipping company says.

Emissions reductions in the global shipping industry is currently at the top of the agenda for the International Maritime Organization’s meeting in London this week. The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and government officials are urging the industry to set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.

CNBC reported that in 2012 international shipping was responsible for 796 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which was around 2.2% of the total global CO2 emissions that year, according to the International Maritime Organization’s numbers.

Wind propulsion can help the industry meet ambitious carbon reduction targets, Sarah Carter says in a recent blog post for ShipInsight. “There is a wide range of wind-assist and primary wind propulsion technology solutions that offer between 10 – 30% savings for retrofits, and up to 50% on smaller new built fully optimized vessels,” she wrote. Carter added that wind propulsion technologies now in commercial use on several vessels are already delivering 5 – 15% fuel and emissions savings.

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