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Maersk product tanker retrofitted with world’s largest rotor sails

Written by Nick Blenkey
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30 m tall rotor sails were installed on Maersk Pelican in Port of Rotterdam

AUGUST 30, 2018 — Maersk Pelican, a Maersk Tankers Long Range 2 (LR2) product tanker vessel has been fitted with two 30 m tall by 5 m diameter Norsepower rotor sails in a trial majority funded by the U.K. government backed Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and involving Maersk Tankers, Norsepower and Shell Shipping & Maritime.

The Norsepower rotor sail solution is a modernized version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. The rotor sails will provide auxiliary wind propulsion to the vessel, optimising fuel efficiency by reducing fuel consumption and associated emissions by an expected 7-10% on typical global shipping routes.

The rotor sails were installed on the Maersk Pelican in the Port of Rotterdam and are the world’s largest. The ship’s first voyage with the rotor sails installed will commence shortly.

“This project is breaking ground in the product tanker industry. 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. This new technology has the potential to help the industry be more cost-competitive as it moves cargoes around the world for customers and to reduce the environmental impact,” said Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer, Maersk Tankers.

The rotor sails have completed rigorous land testing, including thorough testing of various mechanical and performance criteria, and are the first to be class approved for use on a product tanker vessel. Extensive measurement and evaluation of their effectiveness will now take place to test the long-term financial and technical viability of the technology. Independent experts from Lloyd’s Register’s (LR’s) Ship Performance team will acquire and analyze the performance data during the test phase to ensure an impartial assessment before technical and operational insights as well as performance studies are published.

Andrew Scott of the Energy Technologies Institute said: “We commissioned this project to provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate the untapped potential of rotor sails. Auxiliary wind propulsion is one of the few fuel-saving technologies that is expected to offer double-digit percentage improvements. The technology is projected to be particularly suitable for tankers and dry bulk carriers, and this test will assist in determining the further potential for rotor sails in the product tanker industry.”

Tuomas Riski, CEO, Norsepower, added: “We have great ambitions for our technology and its role in decarbonizing the shipping industry. The installation of our largest ever rotor sails in partnership with these industry leading organizations shows that there is an appetite to apply new technologies.

“With this installation on the Maersk Pelican, there are now three vessels in daily commercial operation using Norsepower’s rotor sails. Each of these cases represents a very different vessel type and operational profile, demonstrating the widespread opportunity to harness the wind through Flettner rotors across the maritime industry.”

“The shipping industry faces a major challenge in how it can economically ship the increasing amounts of goods and energy the world demands, whilst lowering its environmental impact,” said Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Vice-President, Shell Shipping & Maritime. “We see significant advantages in embracing, testing and driving innovative technologies that we believe show real promise in helping the shipping industry meet this challenge.”

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