With fossil fuel prices continuing to rise and be uncertain, heavy users of fossil fuels have a strong incentive to look for alternatives or to look for energy-efficient ways to reduce their uses of fossil fuels. Here is one interesting example [via JR]:
Container Ships to Use Kites to Save Fuel
Minnesota based Cargill has just signed an agreement with Skysails that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping business by using a giant kite. That’s right…a kite. Skysails, based in Hamburg, has developed a patented system which uses a kite to propel large shipping vessels across the sea. The wind-harnessing propulsion system, In theory, could end up reducing fuel consumption by an impressive 35%.
Here’s how it works: A monstrous 3,444 square foot kite is attached, via rope, to a control pod that electronically manipulates the kite to maximize potential wind benefits. The kite itself flies anywhere from 300 to 1300 feet in the air, whipping around in a figure 8 formation. Since the system is controlled electronically, it requires little attention from the crew. The computer system makes all the necessary adjustments to maximize available wind and relates telemetry back to a monitor located on the ship’s bridge.
What intrigues me about this example is that these container ships will not be using solar panels or windmillls to generate electricity. They are using the wind power directly. Furthermore, they will be instituting the plan in response to market forces, not gubmnt subsidies.