December 04 - Two leading German manufacturers will join forces to market an innovative hybrid propulsion system for shipping.

Towing-kite manufacturer SkySails of Hamburg and Zeppelin Power Systems, a subsidiary of the Zeppelin Group, will work to promote the diesel-wind hybrid power system, building on the success of the inaugural trail sailing across the Atlantic by a Beluga heavy lift ship (as reported in HL&PFI issue 2, Feb/March '08).

SkySails propulsion systems are currently in use on two cargo ships belonging to Beluga Shipping and the Wessels Reederei as part of pilot trials along a variety of shipping routes. Depending on wind conditions, it is claimed that SkySails can save an average of between 10 and 35 percent of fuel costs on cargo vessels and that some 60 percent of modern ships can be retrofitted with such a towing-kite propulsion system.

Ernst Susanek, president and CEO of Zeppelin, said: "Rising fuel costs and climate-change-related requirements and restrictions are forcing the shipping industry to change its way of thinking. The combination of cutting-edge diesel engine technologies and the wind propulsion systems will allow us to chart a new and much more promising course in our industry."