Photo: Image by K Line

K Line joins IWSA as it explores the power of kites and wind propulsion

Image by K Line

Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has become a member of the International Windship Association (IWSA).

IWSA is a member-driven not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of direct wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

“With K-Line joining IWSA, they are sending a clear message to the industry and policy makers that wind propulsion is a credible, viable and increasingly attractive solution, especially as fuel prices bounce back, with increasingly likely fossil fuel levies in the near future and more expensive alternative fuels that will start to become commercially available over the next decade,” IWSA said in a release.

“Joining IWSA is a great opportunity for our company. Through IWSA activities, maritime stakeholders can create a big scrum, pushing together towards the uptake of direct wind power applications for commercial ships. We believe this association will bring a bright future for the shipping industry, “ Atsuo Asano, K Line Representative Director & Senior Managing Executive Officer, said.

K Line has recognized the potential of wind propulsion for cutting emissions back in 2019, having signed a major agreement with France-based Airseas, a developer of automated power kites for ships.

Under the 20-year deal Airseas will install and service one ship with the Seawing, a system based on parafoil technology that tows commercial ships in order to cut more than 20% of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The kite is a large piece of folded tissue that is lifted at the top of the 35-meter high mast mounted on the bow of the vessel. The system is linked to the winch on the deck with a long cable, which contains special technology in itself. It then unfolds and starts flying, beginning its trajectory. As explained by Airseas, the officer only needs to press a button and the Seawing system takes care of itself.

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The first installation on a Capsize ship, most probably sailing between Japan and Australia, is set for 2021 after which demonstration tests will ensue, aimed at proving that the promised 20 percent savings can be achieved on the said route.

The tests will be one of the most important factors for K Line before the company commits to install the automated 1000 sqm kites on up to 50 more ships.

“Wind-assist retrofits will deliver 5-20% of the propulsive energy required by large vessels on their current motor vessel operational profile, with the potential to reach 30%. This abundant energy is delivered at zero cost and emissions for the life of the vessel, directly to the point of use without the need for additional expensive infrastructure,” IWSA Secretary-General, Gavin Allwright, said.

A market projection released in an EU report in 2016 forecast that wind propulsion technology installations could reach up to 10,700 in the container, bulker and tanker markets by 2030. These findings were recently echoed by the UK Clean Maritime Plan released in July 2019 that identified wind propulsion technologies as a £2 billion a year market by the 2050s.

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