January 23, 2008 Hamburg-based SkySails has announced the first test of its towing kite propulsion system during regular shipping operations. The 132m long Multi Purpose Heavy Lift Carrier MS "Beluga SkySails" will set sail from Bremen to Venezuela this week equipped with 160m2 SkySails supporting the main engine with around five tons tractive force at low wind.

The newly built cargo vessel was recently towed for the first time with the aid of wind propulsion on the North Sea near Bremerhaven, Germany. The Bremen-based Beluga Shipping company and the SkySails expect the use of the system to result in a reduction in average annual fuel costs of between 10 to 35%, depending on the prevailing wind conditions, with temporary cuts of 50% achievable in optimal wind conditions. The first results are to be expected in the next few months.

“The maiden voyage marks the beginning of the practical testing during regular shipping operations of the SkySails-System. During the next few months we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice und significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions,” says Stephan Wrage, Managing Director, SkySails GmbH & Co. KG.

The trail will also deliver important feedback on the production readiness of the system for use on additional vessels. “Certainly, the daily routine at sea will still bear many challenges for SkySails. It is thus now particularly important to raise the manageability and robustness of the system to the level demanded by our customers. We will have to face up to many challenges and in the process learn many very valuable lessons, ” says Stephan Brabeck, Technical Manager at SkySails.

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