Reinventing the sailboat

SkysailsSkysails is a German company that is working on commercializing a simple, brilliant way for large ships to use wind power for propulsion. Large kites tethered high above the ship can generate up to 50 percent of the propulsion energy needed for freighters and large yachts. The company estimates that their product can save 10-35 percent of a ship’s annual fuel. If widely adopted, this technology could save millions of tons of fossil CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

I used to sail a lot as a teenager and I really love the sensation of harnessing this awesome force to make your boat fly across the water. I was also into stunt kites, especially while I lived on Norderney in the North Sea. My dream is to go to Kitty Hawk and learn to kite-surf. So when I read about Skysails I thought that this was just brilliant! Check out the video on their website (see below). This is really amazing – the kite deploys at the push of a button, and operates completely automatically. And depending on wind conditions the cost of the system can amortize in a couple of years.

The way modern technology brings together two ancient technologies – sailing and kites – is quite fascinating. It’s not a new idea, I don’t think. Seems to me I had read before that kites had been used for propelling boats as far back as sails. Now I wonder if they can make kites big enough that even a container ship could turn off the engine altogether?!

This is the Skysails promo video:


Comments are closed.