2020s The decade of wind propulsion

Will the 2020s prove to be the decade when wind power return to shipping in a big way??:

What is your opinion?

Norsepower Rotorsails o/b the SEA ZHOUSHAN being serviced by the Orange Delta team at the Eastern Anchorage in Singapore


Once again, pie-in-the-sky stuff.

Some critical quotes from the article:

“estimates that its technology would be able to achieve an efficiency gain of up to 8% and a consequent reduction of up to 3,400 tons of CO2 per year.”

“If the pilot proves effective" blah, blah, blah.

Anybody see any words in there about what this costs?

And “The solution is fully automated and detects whenever the wind is strong enough to deliver fuel and emission savings, at which point the rotor sails start automatically.”

In the meantime, the rotors provide resistance to the wind and slow it down and increase fuel.

Mariners, please ask yourself this simple question. How often do you sail with the relative wind NOT from the arc AHEAD of the ship? These things don’t work when the wind is from ahead.

Has anybody seen these magical estimates, savings, and efficiencies in an audited document after years of operation including the capital costs, maintenance costs and a comparison to a similar ship as a control which is operating on similar routes? I haven’t. Not mentioned in any of these articles either.

Saving CO2 is not a saving. Haven’t you heard the UK is running out of industrial CO2?


I don’t think anybody have suggested that wind power is going to be the ONLY power source on ships, but it MAY have some merit as one of many sources that is being tested out at the moment.

Here is one project that contain just that concept:

I agree. Nobody, certainly not me, suggests wind as a sole source, and we should test new innovations.

My point is that we never hear of the failures. We never hear of the costs, just the magical benefits. We never see audited results of long-term studies. These wind rotors have been around for decades and they haven’t taken off. They are still a novelty and still being studied and tested.

It’s not going to be the decade of wind propulsion. These tests are hoping to scam off the building lunacy of increasing aversion to traditional fuels to supposedly save us from a forthcoming mythical climate catastrophe of a globe warming a pooftenth of a degree.

Preparing yourselves for a very cold winter ahead would be more productive.

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Here’s an audited study that confirmed a 8.2% saving with two rotor sails.

Being [almost] all new technologies, long term studies will come in time. There is no mentioned of the business viability, but considering that more rotor sails are being fitted, there is obviously a positive financial return.
As for sailing in head winds, an integral part of Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion is the weather routing, which means that the ship will not necessarily follow the shortest distance route, but will follow the route that based on the weather forecast will give the most savings. That said, are there ever going to be times when there is no wind? yes, off course. But you can look at past weather data on most commercial routes, WASP will statistically give a benefit, more in some routes than others off course.

That is an interesting but short term study of one year. The savings are mentioned but not the costs. The savings are expressed in tonnes of CO2 saved thus emphasising the primary reason for the installation in the first place.

The gushing press release (as would be expected) paints everything in a positive light and ropes in a reputable auditor, Lloyd’s Register, but we aren’t told exactly what was compared to what. It is inferred the trial was compared to a similar period on the same ship without the rotors. I’m still sceptical based on my many years sailing square rigged sailing ships and want to see much longer studies including capital costs, maintenance costs and the many negatives not mentioned ie wind from ahead. These things don’t work with the relative wind less than about 30 degrees off the bow.

This is not a new technology. 1924 is the first mention of a ship fitted with rotor sails and they have been tried in many ships since. The simple fact that I’ve been at sea since 1967 and never seen a ship so fitted indicates their rarity. Or are they all in Scandinavian waters where they seem to cluster now? Why, if they save money (rather than CO2), are they so rare?

I’m well aware of routing to take advantage of weather but I simply suspect rerouting to save CO2 will have other disadvantages.

I’ll be happy to be disproved but can sit back in the meantime to wait and see if they take off … and why. I doubt we’ll be fitting rotors instead of masts on my barquentine any time soon. There’s just no romance in them.

No money or CO2 savings to go from a brigantine rig to rotor sail, so no incentive to change?
What about crew requirements? I don’t know how many you need to go about on your Brigantine, but Norpower claim that their rotor sails operation are fully automatic.

PS> In 1959 I was on the last large square rigger that had no propulsion engine, commanded by a Master that had never sailed on a ship with engine:

You don’t strike me as a romantic person!!
But there you go, you should never judge someone by their forum rantings.

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A barquentine, not brigantine. Missing a mast there.

And sail training isn’t about efficiency. It’s about character development through challenging, even stressful teamwork. To develop character we require them to do physical things. You don’t need ten people to switch on the rotor. It’s automatic after all.

That’s good. He must have been a proper seaman but I wonder how he would meet today’s strict scheduling. We sometimes sail twice a day for three hour sails with 120 passengers and berth after each. Hard to do without an engine.

In 1959 I was sailing a snub-nosed dinghy I built with dad but had run away to sea overnight once on a prawn trawler. Put me off trawling for life.

I agree, but I seem to have you typecast as somewhat obsessed about climate Armageddon … at any cost. I could be wrong.

Just out of curiosity I looked up Sordlandet and found this on wWiki:

“In 1958 she was equipped with an engine, as one of the last European tall ships.”

Maybe you posted the photo of the wrong ship.

You ARE wrong!!
I’m not obsessed with climate Armageddon, but I try to stay informed on the subject.
Neither am I obsessed with reducing emission from ships, but I try to stay on top of what is happening.
I may be old and retired, but I’m still interested in the development of various things in shipping and the offshore industry, incl. methods to reduce emission of GHG.

Denying reality is not very smart IMHO:

Good to see I’m wrong … because you say so. I agree with the last phrase, and also try to stay informed on the subject.

Here’s where we differ. I couldn’t care less about GHG although I do appreciate the presence of water vapour (the most effective GHG and we need the rain), and CO2 (plant food, and an almost saturated GHG, may there be ever increasing piles of the stuff, we need the food).

What reality, pray tell, do I deny?

Anyway, we mustn’t stray from the OP’s thread (I’ll get banned again) so I just reiterate: the 2020s will NOT be the decade of wind propulsion … certainly not without compulsion, which I can see is the ONLY reason.

8% fuel savings could probably easily be found on most any ship if the correct predictive maintenance and efficiency engineers were hired AND listened to by the bean counters. Start with bottom paint.

No I did not. I joined Sørlandet in Febr. 1959 when she was in drydock to prepare her for the installation of an engine. The stern was modified to fit a propeller and ballast stone were removed from what was to become the engine room, but the stern tube was plugged and no engine installed before undocking.

She had been in layup for some years, with all running gear stowed. The lower spars were raised and lashed in near vertical position and the uppers stowed on deck.
We were 52 boys between 15 -18 who joined her for pre-sea training, sleeping in hammocks in an unheated banjer and set to work getting her ready to sail in the spring.
We did a trip from Kristiansand to Århus in Denmark and back without any propulsion. In Århus tug assistance was compulsory, but returning to her home base in Kristiansand we entered under sail and even Mediterranean moored without assistance of tugs or line boats. Even one anchor were run out with our own boat under oars.

That was more character building and better sail training than making 3 hour sailings with 120 paying pax.

She is still sailing, now as School ship:

Now in Cartagena, Spain:

PS> I believe the engine got installed (and the old Master resigned) during the winter 1959-60. (wWiki is not always right, you know)

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Good. I fully accept your detailed and very interesting story. I concur your captain was a proper seaman and you did things we don’t do anymore. Thank you.

But, I’m not trying to be too picky here, but you had a go at me saying:

Just for your information, we take day sails with paying passengers to make enough money to be able to do our core business of sail training on much longer voyages with trainees, many of whom require financial assistance to be able to participate. We carry only five paid crew.

I fully accept the character development value of what you said you did aboard. In fact I’m jealous. There were no such opportunities where I grew up.

But we take many volunteers on those day sails mostly after they have done at least one training voyage and they still have to climb aloft, set sails and furl them, tack or wear the ship, clean up the occasional spew etc so there’s character development aplenty even on a short sail.

One passenger spewed his false teeth down the heads one day (we discourage that - go over the side) and (after pitiful pleading) one hardy crew member fished around in the almost-full sewage treatment plant tank with his bare hands and found them. I call that character building! - as was putting them back in his mouth. I was mightily impressed by that crew member, but I didn’t shake his hand.

Wiki is often wrong and most egregiously on anything controversial, climate change is one.

You were there. You should correct Wiki. That story would be an interesting addition to the entry. Give it a go.

There are many things that can be done to save fuel on ships.
Proper maintenance, whether by crew or by effective management is but one.
Here is another:

Conclusion must be that many things taken together is required to reach the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. That includes using wind power, when available.