Innovation award for rotor sail suggests coming-of-age for wind power in marine vessel propulsion

The Estraden is said to be the first transport cargo ship with a rotor sail installed.

Norsepower Oy, a developer of the renewable energy-powered vessel technology, has announced that it has received the ‘Innovation of the Year’ accolade at the 2016 Electric & Hybrid Marine Awards’ ceremony, which took place at Electric and Hybrid Marine World Expo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 23 June.

The Norsepower Rotor Sail Solution is a modernised version of the Flettner rotor – a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship. When the wind conditions are favourable, Norsepower Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions while providing the power needed to maintain speed and voyage time. Norsepower’s Rotor Sail Solution is fully automated and senses whenever the wind is strong enough to deliver fuel savings, at which point the rotors start automatically – minimising crew time and resource. It can be used with new vessels or can be retrofitted on existing ships without off-hire costs.

The technology is the first data-verified and commercially viable auxiliary wind propulsion solution for the global maritime industry. To date, independent data analysis indicates that up to 20% fuel savings per year can be achieved on windy routes, with sufficient sized Rotor Sails, and appropriate service speed. In commercial operation aboard the M/S Estraden, a 9,700DWT Ro-Ro carrier, two small units of Norsepower’s Rotor Sails have reduced fuel consumption by 6.1%. This saving has been measured and independently verified by NAPA, the leading maritime data analysis, software and services provider.

The judges seemed to be effusive in their praise for the technology. Simon Enticknap, editor, Marine Business, commented: “The rotor sail solution is unlike anything else and, as such, truly innovative. A very simple solution based on an older idea, it has the potential to deliver benefits in many applications.”

Krischan Förster, chief editor, Hansa International Maritime Journal, added: “Reducing OPEX and emissions is one of the key factors for success in today’s shipping. Using wind energy as a renewable source to generate electricity is a simple yet courageous and promising approach to protecting the environment and cutting costs for ship owners.”

Commenting on the award win, Tuomas Riski, CEO, Norsepower said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to have won this prestigious award. We strongly believe that the ability to harness the wind as an additional power source and enable a reduction in fuel consumption is the next natural step for the shipping industry. Our technology is paving the way for returning shipping to sail power as it looks to play its role in transforming to the low carbon economy.”

Practical points
Each of Norsepower’s Rotor Sails is made using lightweight composite sandwich materials, offering a simple yet structurally sound, and hi-tech solution. In addition, Norsepower complies with the highest health and safety standards, with the Rotor Sail Solution certified to remain robust in all weather conditions. The Rotor Sail is typically delivered as part of a full-service solution that includes both delivery and maintenance of the hardware and software components.

Przemek Myszka, editor-in-chief, Baltic Press and Harbours Review, concluded: “Norsepower is making true the dream of harnessing the power of wind for the benefit of the shipping industry as well as the environment”.