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THE ROLE OF DATA IN HARNESSING WIND POWER

THE ROLE OF DATA IN HARNESSING WIND POWER

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 

With the IMOs impending 2050 and 2030 decarbonisation targets, demand is increasing for economically viable, green technologies, according to NAPA of Finland, which has been collaborating with various industry leaders to develop wind assisted propulsion technologies.

According to NAPA, the new generation of wind propulsion is coming of age, with 2020 seeing major milestones despite a challenging year. For example, Cargill and BAR Technologies signed an agreement to deliver a new wind sail solution for commercial ships, and Norsepower and Bergen-based ship operator, Sea-Cargo, announced plans to install Rotor Sails onboard ro-ro SC Connector. These will be the first tilting Rotor Sails, which is fundamental in ensuring wind propulsion is even more accessible to ship owners and operators.

Likewise, the last few years will be remembered for wind-assisted propulsion technologies, with the idea of reviving the ‘age of sail’ sparking interest in the broader media and capturing the imaginations of those outside of the shipping industry. Most notably, Maersk confirmed the viability of new wind propulsion solutions by announcing an 8.2% reduction in fuel consumption (equivalent to 1,400 tonnes of CO2), stemming from a 12-month trial of rotor sails onboard the Maersk Pelican.

NAPA says its expertise in vessel modelling and optimisation, as well as weather routing and performance analysis, has been valuable to the development of wind-assisted shipping. The company partnered with C-Job Naval Architects to conduct research exploring the carbon reduction benefits. This confirmed the potential of rotor sails, which can save up to 20% of fuel on deep-sea routes, compared with 5% recorded in the North and Baltic seas. The benefits of aligning a vessel’s route with prevailing wind patterns is an untapped potential, of which ship operations can start to take benefit by using the NAPA Voyage Optimisation software.

The software continues to be developed to ensure it can maximise benefits of wind propulsion for ship owners and operators. This is complex and needs to consider a range of factors, such as weather routing, vessel operations, and engine profile. The integral role of data in wind propulsion in shipping, where margins are tight, is to validate the technology and advise owners on how and where it can add value. NAPA’s research also aims to optimise ship designs for Flettner rotors, particularly newbuildings, to further maximise fuel savings and reduce emissions.

With climate change increasingly being acknowledged as a priority, sustainability is at the forefront of business decisions and viewed as a critical element in ship operations. Also, efficiency retrofits and upgrades are essential in keeping assets profitable in the long term. Likewise, voyage optimisation and the application of big data are recognised as valuable in validating the ROI of newer technologies and enhancing performance. Validating and optimising new, green technologies, such as wind-assisted propulsion, is integral in enabling the low carbon fleet of the future.

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