Practical and proven wind technology for dry bulk vessels

Anemoi Rotor Sails were installed to the 64,000-dwt bulk carrier, <i>MV Afros</i>, in 2018 (credit: Anemoi)
Anemoi Rotor Sails were installed to the 64,000-dwt bulk carrier, MV Afros, in 2018 (credit: Anemoi)
By using a patented rail system, Rotor Sails can be moved longitudinally or transversely to minimise risk to vessel and port operations for bulkers where complex operations are likely.
By using a patented rail system, Rotor Sails can be moved longitudinally or transversely to minimise risk to vessel and port operations for bulkers where complex operations are likely.

Installing wind technologies as retrofit or newbuild could be the answer to tighter emissions targets for most vessel segments, including bulk carriers, writes Nick Contopoulos, COO, Anemoi.

Shipowners are well aware of the mounting pressure placed upon them to comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) ambitious greenhouse gas strategy and the significant cuts in ship emissions expected as part of the 2030 and 2050 targets.

Meeting these targets – which set out to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vessels by at least 40% before the end of this decade, by at least 50% by 2050, compared with 2008 baseline figures, and eventually achieving full decarbonisation - will likely require a range of solutions.

However, with the imminent introduction of EEDI Phase 3 requirements, and EEXI and CII regulations set to be approved later this year, shipowners are already having to assess the options available to achieve compliance. And there are many emerging options to consider. Utilising sustainable energy sources onboard by installing wind technologies as retrofit or newbuild represents an attractive solution for many vessel segments, including bulk carriers, irrespective of what alternative fuel options eventually reach the market. In fact, onboard wind-power generation could help to unlock the adoption of new fuels.

The power of wind

At Anemoi, a global provider of wind technology, we believe that wind propulsion provides a long-term solution for driving the industry towards achieving its environmental obligations. Rotor Sails are the most mature of the different types of wind technologies currently being considered and used by shipowners.

Rotor Sails are tall cylindrical structures that can be installed on the upper deck of vessels and are a proven energy saving technology. An electric motor is used to rotate the sails in order to harness the renewable power of the wind and propel the ship, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

The technology makes use of a phenomenon known as the 'Magnus Effect'. As the cylinder rotates within an airflow, a force perpendicular to the apparent wind direction is created, which delivers additional forward thrust to the vessel when the wind direction is favourable. The thrust generated can either provide additional vessel speed or maintain vessel speed with reduced power output from the main engine. The obvious benefit from this is less fuel burned and reduced emissions. Depending on factors such as vessel type and trading pattern, Anemoi’s Rotor Sail technology has the potential to reduce fuel use and associated emissions by as much as 30%.

Practical and proven

After significant research and development, we first fitted Rotor Sails to a 64,000 dwt bulk carrier, MV Afros, in 2018. Rotor Sail technology is also ideally suited to larger bulkers such as very large ore carriers (VLOC) and Capesize vessels. They have ample deck space and typically operate on favourable trading patterns and deep-sea voyages where the wind is strong and predictable. That said, bulkers of all sizes and configurations can take advantage of Rotor Sail technology – as was proven by the MV Afros installation on an Ultramax bulker.

Mindful of operational ship constraints - particularly during cargo handling - we have developed and tested in service, a unique range of patented deployment systems. Our fixed system means the Rotor Sails are fixed to the deck. This solution is more suitable for tankers, ferries and RoRos where the structures will not interfere with cargo operations and where air draft is not a constraint.

However, for the majority of bulkers where complex cargo operations are likely, the Rotor Sails come installed on a rail system. This allows them to be moved longitudinally or transversely across or along the deck minimising risk to vessel and port operations. This patented and proven system was selected for the MV Afros. A third alternative is a folding system where the Rotor Sails can be lowered from vertical to horizontal. This option can be selected where air draft restrictions exist and/or to clear cargo loading or discharging operations.

It’s all in the numbers

Looking at the potential savings for bulk carriers, a 325,000 dwt VLOC fitted with rotors could achieve an 18% fuel and emission reduction. On a standard China to Brazil route, these savings amount to 5357 tonnes of carbon saved each year. Similar results can be achieved in other vessel segments. For example, a VLCC tanker sailing from the US Gulf to China show a 17.3% fuel reduction which equates to 7044 tonnes of carbon saved each year.

These are not insignificant emissions savings and – importantly – demonstrate that Rotor Sails can reduce fuel bills regardless of the emissions criteria. We can presume that future fuels will come at a cost, and so investing in solutions that can optimise fuel management and energy consumption is a crucial when selecting eco-technologies to meet EEXI requirements.

The technology also has a considerable lifespan of 25 years, benefits from low maintenance costs and can be redeployed between vessels if assets are sold, which is a significant benefit for owners of larger or ageing fleets. The control and automation system, located on the bridge, is designed to maximise performance and minimise crew input with automated speed and direction setting, equipment monitoring, safety features.

Crucially, performance reporting to stakeholders using ship-to-shore data transmission allows for the ongoing assessment of emissions. Such insight will play an important role in helping shipowners, operators, managers and crew demonstrate their efforts to reduce emissions and contribute to industry efforts to achieve the IMO’s GHG goals through operation measures.

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