We live in a containerised society and our everyday existence is also dictated by it. The width of the Panama Canal can even decide the maximum load of containers to be transported at a time by (Panamax) cargo ships from one hemisphere to the other. Both the existing infrastructure of ports and management of empty/full containers dictate the rhythm to which we consume goods (and viceversa).
This global connectivity generates a constant development of larger and larger ships adapted to our consumption fever (Post-Panamax). These vessels are not only conceived for goods, but also planned as hedonist floating cities. As Supersudaca maps in their Caribbean Tourism research, cruise-based tourism is demanding larger spaces for entertainment on board. Although this may lead to turn coast countries into mere shopping strips for visitors spending there a few hours before returning to their safe ships, the fact is that maritime transport is a future challenge for energy-consumption as well.
In 2001, Hamburg-based engineers Stephan Wrage and Thomas Meyer came up with the idea of profiting from wind propulsion for shipping industry. By means of a towing kite, SkySails have already managed to offer an effective load of 8 to 16 tons in cargo vessels and plan to reach up to 130 tons in a near future. They consist of a simple device to be attached to existing vessels, without big changes in their basic structure and even increasing general stability.
“The SkySails concept, designed for commercial shipping and luxury yachts, consists of a fully automated towing kite propulsion and a wind-optimised routeing system. It is used offshore in addition to the propulsion of the ship’s engine – wind conditions permitting. The SkySail offers a potential reduction of fossil fuel costs of between 10-50% per annum.” [source&images>SkySails via Updating Germany]