The kite works from wind power which is transferred to the ship and results in less engine power needed to move the ship. The kite will under normal conditions generate a pulling force on the ship, which can be translated into an equivalent engine power generated. One example of a ship with kite is the MV “Beluga” where a test installation has been used since 2008.

Applicability and assumptions

Kite-powered vessel, source: IWSA

Kite-powered vessel, source: IWSA

The system works best for ships over 30 metres and in speeds less than 16 knots, independent of vessel age. Another important factor is the amount of time the kites can be used and yield an effect. Due to prevailing winds and other limitations of the kite system, it is assumed that the kites can only be used 20% and 30% of the time for small and large ships, respectively. Kites are more favourable on long international trades where larger ships tend to trade.

Table 1 Overview of size of kite and power generated

Size of kite [m2] Power generated [kW]
160 600
320 1 200
640 2 500
1 280 4 900
2 500 9 600
5 000* 19 200

* Assumed not to be available until 2020

The larger the ships are the bigger a kite they can use, e.g. for crude oil tankers only a VLCC can use the 5,000 m2 kite.

Cost of implementation

The main cost elements for the kite will be purchase, installation and operational expenses, and these are expected to increase with the size of the kite as shown in the table below.

Table 2 Overview of size of kite and installation cost

Size of kite [m2] Purchase cost [USD]
160 280 000
320 480 000
640 920 000
1 280 1 755 000
2 500 2 590 000
5 000* 3 420 000

Reduction potential

The reduction potential is dependent on vessel size, segment, operation profile and trading areas. The expected reduction potential is in the range of 1% to 5% on main engine fuel consumption.