Finnish ferry operator Viking Line’s cruise ferry MS Viking Grace has become the first passenger vessel to operate using a Rotor Sail to harness wind power for propulsion.
Developed by Finnish clean technology and engineering company Norsepower Oy, the Rotor Sail is a modern version of the Flettner rotor: a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind energy and propel a vessel.
This design has existed for more than 90 years, though recent environmental regulations have sparked a renewed interest in its applications. Norsepower’s Rotor Sail unit is 24m in height and 4m in diameter.
It’s also fully automated and capable of sensing when the wind is strong enough to deliver fuel savings. At this point, the rotor will start automatically, thereby optimizing crew time and resources.
“The last traditional windjammers in the world were owned and operated by shipping companies based in Åland, so it’s only fitting that Åland-based Viking Line should be a forerunner in launching modern auxiliary sail technology,” says Tuomas Riski, CEO of Norsepower
The Viking Grace — which operates between Turku, Finland and Stockholm — has been in service since 2013 and is fuelled entirely with LNG. The Rotor Sail solution will cut the vessel’s fuel consumption and reduce its CO2 emissions by up to 900 tonnes annually.
In addition to the installation onboard the Viking Grace, Viking Line will also install two Norsepower Rotor Sails onboard a newbuild cruise ferry vessel which is currently being built in China and due to be operational in 2020.