Maersk Tankers has installed two huge rotor sails on one of its vessels

  • Measuring 30 meters in height and five meters in diameter, the rotor sails were installed on a ship in Rotterdam.
  • There are now three vessels in daily commercial operation using Norsepower's rotor sails, according to its CEO.
Maersk Tankers

Two 30-meter-tall rotor sails have been installed on a Maersk Tankers vessel in an attempt to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

The Maersk Pelican has been fitted with the sails, Finnish firm Norsepower Oy said in a statement Thursday.

Measuring 30 meters in height and five meters in diameter, the rotor sails were installed on the product tanker in Rotterdam, Norsepower added. They will provide the vessel with "auxiliary wind propulsion" and are expected to cut fuel consumption and associated emissions by 7 to 10 percent "on typical global shipping routes."

In 2012, international shipping was responsible for an estimated 796 million tons of CO2 emissions — around 2.2 percent of total global CO2 emissions that year, according to the International Maritime Organization.

The new sails use something called the "Magnus effect" for propulsion. As the rotors spin, passing air will flow with a lower pressure on one side compared to the other. This difference in pressure creates a propulsion force that moves the ship forward.

Founded in 1928, Maersk Tankers was acquired by A.P. Moller Holding in September 2017 for $1.17 billion.

"This project is breaking ground in the product tanker industry," Tommy Thomassen, chief technical officer at Maersk Tankers, said.

"While the industry has gone through decades of technological development, the use of wind propulsion technology onboard a product tanker vessel could take us to a new playing field," Thomassen added.

There are now three vessels in daily commercial operation using Norsepower's rotor sails, according to its CEO Tuomas Riski. "The installation of our largest ever rotor sails in partnership with these industry leading organisations shows that there is an appetite to apply new technologies," Riski added.