Kite Ship's Maiden Voyage a Success
Sails allowed cargo vessel to use 20% less fuel during trip
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Mar 20, 2008 8:58 PM CDT
The cargo ship 'MS Beluga Skysails' equipped with a computer controlled kite makes its way through the North Sea during a test run near Bremerhaven, northern Germany, in January.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Environmental concerns might get shipping companies to go back to the future, Earth2Tech.com reports, after a cargo vessel recently used 20% less fuel than normal on a 12,000-mile journey by a kite-like sail. The EU contributed $1.9 million to help rig the Beluga SkySails with the 1,700-square-foot contraption, used on a trek from Germany to Venezuela, the US, and Norway.

The sail could enable cargo ships to go entirely to wind power—a la Christopher Columbus and others—under the right conditions, reducing carbon emissions and saving up to 30% on fuel costs, a savings of at least $1,000 per day, Earth2Tech notes. The Beluga SkySails' captain hailed the voyage as opening “a new chapter in the history of commercial shipping.”