Wind powered maritime travel isn’t exactly a new idea. Actually it’s a really freakin’ old idea. So it’s easy to make fun of the "breakthrough innovation" of SkySails.
SkySails has been adding giant kites to the front of barges in order to reduce their fuel consumption by as much as 20%. The systems pay for themselves quickly, and could potentially save massive amounts of fuel…but are they better than regular sails?
Turns out they are. Per square meter of sail, they produce five times more energy than traditional sails. Depending on wind conditions the 160 square meter kite can generate about as much force as an Airbus A318 jet engine. That’s pretty awesome.
Of course, the more sail you use, the more energy you get, but getting the sail up and away from the turbulence caused by the body of the ship is certainly worth the effort. Of course, now we’re just waiting for them to get the systems installed on a significant percentage of shipping vessels. And, well, we might be waiting a while.