Reuters: "SkySail" may help ships conserve fuel

Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 20:14 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports on a new type of sail, a sort of giant kite meant to boost a cargo ship's propulsion and save fuel.

"I got the idea on a sail boat a few years ago," Stephan Wrage, inventor and founder of SkySails GmbH & Co. KG, told Reuters. "I love flying kites and found sailing rather slow. I thought the enormous power in kites could somehow be utilized."

The technology he has developed is a throwback to an earlier age of maritime travel when ships relied solely on wind. But it also addresses a key concern of the modern age: climate change.

Backers of "SkySail" call it a "green" project -- by cutting fuel use it could help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Wrage, 34, said that depending on the vessel and the winds, fuel costs for shippers could be cut by more than $1,000 a day.