A wind monitoring project has successfully identified and measured the potential generating capacity from wind power for a ship’s trading patterns. According to Totempower and Lloyd’s Register’s (LR) Strategic Research Group, which joined forces to support Zodiac Maritime Agencies in assessing the potential for wind-generation devices to be placed on commercial ships, this data can be used to support the development of computational fluid dynamics-based simulation models, suitable for predicting the potential energy yields.

Last year, a fully autonomous wind-monitoring system, designed and assembled by Totempower, was installed on the Zodiac-managed bulk carrier Cape Flamingo. Sensors were installed in locations where the best wind conditions and the most relevant environmental data (wind speed, direction and turbulence) could be expected, with consideration given to the potentially most effective locations for onboard wind generation.

"This project demonstrated that wind assisted power generation onboard commercial vessels may be considered for auxiliary power generation in the future,” commented Wolf Deitrich, CEO of Totempower. “The results illustrate the importance of placing wind energy generators in way of the bridge wind stations where the vessels receives the best quality of unobstructed air flow. Designing a wind turbine for the prevalent conditions and the environment it is used in are important factors to consider at implementation level. Wind turbines of the conventional type may be able to contribute to the on-board auxiliary power supply, but are highly unlikely to replace it completely for practical as well as for operational safety considerations."

"We are very happy with the outcome of this initiative," said Kalliopi Xypolita, environmental superintendent for Zodiac. "The data-collection phase lasted for seven months. We now have better understanding of the feasibility of implementing wind turbines onboard our ships and some of the associated economic and environmental benefits.”

Spyros Hirdaris of LR’s Strategic Research Group said: "As the maritime industry steps up its pursuit of more efficient shipping operations one key area where we have a number of projects is related to wind energy. Ship owners want good data to help them make decisions and we have made real progress in that respect with this project."

Supplemental wind power is just one of many cleaner energy options being explored by the marine team at the Strategic Research Group in concert with shipowners, designers and operators; others include research into low distillate fuels (e.g. LNG as fuel, methane etc.), nuclear propulsion systems, solar and tidal energy and the potential of fuel cells.

"The purpose of this innovative work has been the understanding of the fundamentals for better onboard energy management," said Hirdaris. "To save fuel and maximize the understanding of alternative sources of power, we need good data. This project has been designed to provide the information that Zodiac needs to get general understanding of the effectiveness of potential wind-turbine driven energy solutions."

The alliance was formed at a time when commercial shipping is increasingly looking to work with specialized service providers to support the development of new technology, creating alliances that can provide the technical solutions that the industry needs.