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File:MV Beluga SkySails & The Skysail.jpg

SkySails GmbH & Co. KG is a Hamburg-based company that sells equipment to propel cargo ships, large yachts and fishing vessels by the use of wind energy. The company was founded in 2001 by engineers Stephan Wrage and Thomas Meyer. A test facility was set up in Wismar.

The SkySails propulsion system consists of a large kite, an electronic control system for the kite and an automatic system to retract the kite. The system bears similarities to kitesurfing. After tests on the Baltic Sea, the first commercial installation is planned for January 2008. The kites, which have an area of around 320 m2, can be flown at altitudes of 100 to 300 meters. Because of the stronger winds at these heights, they receive a substantially higher thrust per unit area than conventional mast-mounted sails. A ship equipped with the current SkySails could consume from 10 to 35% less oil. The SkySail-system is easily implementable on all large vessels. A conventional ship with a SkySail-system has two propulsion methods, making it a type of hybrid vehicle.

File:MV Beluga Skysails.jpg

MS Beluga Skysails is the world's first commercial container cargo ship which is partially powered by a giant computer-controlled kite (160m² or 1,722 sq ft.). The kite could reduce fuel consumption by 20%. It was launched 17 December 2007 and departed the northern German port of Bremerhaven to Guanta, Venezuela in January, 2008. Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails GmbH announced: "During the next few months we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice and significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions."

The ship completed its journey on March 13, 2008 after sailing from Germany to Venezuela, then to the United States, and ultimately arriving in Norway.[1] While the kite was in use, the ship saved an estimated 10-15% fuel, $1,000 to $1,500 per day.[2]

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