Towing Kite Propulsion for Ships Out-performs Traditional Sails More than Five Times Over

Wessels shipping company orders three more SkySails-Systems

Hamburg/Haren/Ems, (PresseBox) - The latest measurements made aboard the cargo ship "Michael A." demonstrate how the towing kite propulsion system of the Hamburg-based company SkySails delivers far more than five times the performance per square meter of sail than traditional wind propulsion systems. With the help of the wind, the 160 square meter kite generates up to 8 metric tons of tractive force - this approximately corresponds to the power of an Airbus A318 turbine engine. Depending on wind conditions, ships in the future shall be able to post fuel savings of between 10% and 35% using this auxiliary propulsion system. "Our own measurements show that we were able to temporarily save far more than half the fuel by deploying SkySails in favorable wind conditions," reports Gerd Wessels (37), managing director of the Wessels shipping company based in Haren/Ems, adding that "alternatively we were able to increase the ship's cruising speed from 10 to 11.6 knots with the help of this towing kite propulsion." The innovative and environmentally sound wind-propulsion system retrofitted aboard the 90 meter long multipurpose cargo ship "Michael A." has been undergoing pilot testing in European waters since the end of 2007.

SkySails, the Hamburg-based maker of the system, was able to compute potential average annual savings based on the findings of the pilot testing and an evaluation of the log books of 13 identically constructed ships that were also underway in European maritime waters: even in this region - which is known to have many areas of weak winds - savings of more than 15% can be achieved. "Wind is always cheaper than oil and in the light of oil prices going up every day and new emissions regulations, more and more shipping companies are convinced of the performance capability of the SkySails propulsion," says SkySails inventor and company founder Stephan Wrage (35). Even before the pilot testing phase on the "Michael A." has been completed, the Wessels shipping company has ordered additional SkySails-Systems for its next three new ships. "For us, an investment in SkySails propulsion is not just an investment in protecting the climate, but also an investment in the future of maritime shipping that will help us remain globally competitive in the future," is how Gerd Wessels explains his decision.

Each of the shipping company's new 88-meter, multipurpose sister ships with a deadweight capacity of some 3,700 metric tons and nearly 1,500 kW of power will be fitted with a 160 m² SkySails. With favorable wind conditions, a SkySails propulsion of this size can generate up to 8 tons of tractive power. For comparison: in order to reach a cruising speed of 11 knots, these ships require approx. 11 tons of thrust. All of the new vessels that the Wessels shipping company has ordered were financed through the Oltmann Group in Leer, which provided a major portion of SkySails' seed money through private investors.

Pilot testing of the SkySails-System designed to perfect the SkySails technology will continue aboard the cargo ships "Michael A." (Wessels) and "Beluga SkySails" (Beluga Shipping) until early 2009. The practical operations of the two freighters initially focus on calibration work and technical modifications to stabilize the towing kite propulsion. The second half of the pilot phase will then concentrate on extending the flight times and optimizing the system's performance. SkySails will begin series production of the towing kite system once this pilot testing is completed.

Another result of the pilot testing so far was the addition of a sea-state compensator within the SkySails-System, which allows the towing kite to be launched even under difficult weather conditions. "After installing the sea-state compensator we can now deploy the SkySails-System more regularly than was the case at the start of the pilot testing phase and thus also extend the flight times," says SkySails company founder Stephan Wrage.

Some 60,000 of the worldwide approximately 100,000 existing ships are suited for retrofitting with SkySails propulsion. With SkySails technology employed systematically throughout the world, it would be possible to save over 150 million tons of climate-damaging CO2 emissions every year.

About the WESSELS shipping company

The WESSELS shipping company owns a fleet of 40 modern river/sea-going ships and specializes in ship management, freighting services, trust services and finance. The family-owned business has always been successfully combining the best of traditional and modern values. Already in the 1960s, Wessels designed river/sea-going ships known as "cargo liners" and adapted them to meet the ever-changing requirements of the market. Ever since, the shipping company has been pioneering with their ship types and designs and thus been opening up new markets.

About the Oltmann Group

The Oltmann Group ranks among the most successful German issuing houses for investments in ships thanks to having a performance statement unlike any other on the market. Of the 207 ship funds successfully placed up to the end of 2007, 131 were resold after an average term of only 5.5 years with an average after-tax return of 27.03% per year (internal rate of return, IRR).

As an exclusive financing partner, the Oltmann Group has raised more than 16 million euros of equity capital for SkySails from private investors during three rounds of financing.

SkySails GmbH & Co. KG

The SkySails company was established in 2001 and now comprises a team of over 60 people. A unique network of outside experts and powerful suppliers from the shipbuilding and aircraft industries, together with suppliers from the superyacht sector, has contributed to the development of the SkySails-System. Following a six-year development period, SkySails is currently pilot testing its fuel-saving and environmentally friendly towing kite propulsion system aboard the first cargo ships. In addition to cargo vessels, fish trawlers and superyachts can also be equipped with SkySails.

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