Sustainable Energy

Maersk tankers to be fitted with huge rotating sails to cut fuel bills

Maersk P-Class Illustration with two 30x5 Norsepower Rotor Sails

Maersk Tankers, the energy shipping division of Danish cargo giant Moller Maersk, is to fit two, 30 meter rotating sails to one of its vessels.

Finnish company Norsepower said its modernized version of the Flettner rotor – which encompasses a spinning cylinder that captures wind power in order to "propel" ships – would be used in the project.

In a news release on Tuesday, Norsepower added that the new sails are expected to cut fuel consumption and emissions on the 110,000-ton tanker by around 10 percent.

The rotors are set to be fitted in the first half of 2018, with testing at sea until the end of 2019.

Norsepower said it was working in partnership with Maersk Tankers, Shell Shipping & Maritime, and the U.K.'s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI). The ETI is majority funding the project.

"As an abundant and free renewable energy, wind power has a role to play in supporting the shipping industry to reduce its fuel consumption and meet impending carbon reduction targets," Tuomas Riski, CEO of Norsepower, said in a statement.

The ETI's Andrew Scott described Flettner rotors as having the potential to cut ship fuel consumption substantially.

"It is one of the few fuel-saving technologies that could offer double digit percentage improvements," he added, before saying that showing off the technology on the tanker made it "more attractive to shipping companies and investors, and could play a significant role in reducing the fuel costs and improving the environmental impact of shipping in the future."