Solutions Proposed for Wind Propulsion Uptake Barriers

Flettner Rotors
Flettner Rotors

By MarEx 2017-01-11 17:35:45

A study commissioned by DG Climate Action, offers solutions to barriers to the adoption of wind propulsion technologies despite their potential for improving the energy efficiency of commercial shipping.

The Study on the Analysis of Market Potentials & Market Barriers for Wind Propulsion Technologies for Ships identifies three main barriers that currently prevent the further development and uptake of wind propulsion technologies for ships:

•    (Trusted) information on the performance, operability, safety, durability, and economic implications of the wind propulsion technologies.
•    Access to capital for the development of wind propulsion technologies, especially for building and testing of full scale demonstrators.
•    Incentives to improve energy efficiency/reduce CO2 emissions of ships.

These key barriers are interrelated in different ways, with the most crucial interaction being a chicken-and-egg problem between the first and second key barrier. In order to breach this chicken-and-egg problem, the report envisages the development of a standardized method to assess wind propulsion technologies combined with test cases to develop this assessment method as the most important starting point for overcoming the barriers.

The study also identifies different actions that can be taken once a standardized assessment method has been developed. These actions aim at improving the generation of more information on the wind propulsion technologies, at improving the access to and value of this information, and at improving the access to capital for the development and testing of full scale demonstrators.

In order to determine the savings potentials, models have been developed for the different wind propulsion technologies. The models have been used to determine the technologies’ power savings for six sample ships across AIS-recorded voyage profiles and for sample routes, differentiating two speed regimes respectively.

The results indicate that the considered technologies can have significant savings potentials. For the sample ships and selected wind propulsion technology dimensions, savings are found to be comparable for Flettner rotors and wingsails (five to 18 percent in high speed scenario), with relative savings on the larger ships exceeding those on the smaller ships, especially for bulk carriers. Absolute savings are larger at the higher voyage speed for the wingsail and the rotor for all ship types considered.

For towing kites relative savings (one to nine percent in high speed scenario) are, compared to rotors and wingsails, higher for smaller vessels and lower for larger vessels; relative savings are lowest for wind turbines (one to two percent in high speed scenario). 

A key finding of the study is that there is a barrier that has been overestimated so far. The absolute savings that can be achieved by the wind propulsion technologies are found to depend differently on the speed of the vessel. Whereas for the towing kite and the wind turbine absolute savings tend to be equal or even lower at the higher speed, absolute savings are larger at the higher voyage speed for the wingsail and the rotor for all ship types considered. This implies that ships do not necessarily need to slow down for, at least some, wind propulsion systems to become cost efficient.

Should some wind propulsion technologies for ships reach marketability in 2020, the maximum market potential for bulk carriers, tankers and container vessels is estimated to add up to around 3,700–10,700 installed systems until 2030, including both retrofits and installations on newbuilds, depending on the bunker fuel price, the speed of the vessels, and the discount rate applied. 

The use of these wind propulsion systems would then lead to CO2 savings of around 3.5–7.5 Mt CO2 in 2030, and the wind propulsion sector would then be good for around 6,500–8,000 direct and around 8,500–10,000 indirect jobs.

The study was jointly carried out by CE Delft, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Fraunhofer ISI and Chalmers University of Technology.

The report is available here.