The Opportunity For Shipping

Shipping is a mega pollutor. Even though shipping companies like Maersk are investing in cleaner engines and even in synthetic fuels, sadly the whole point of international shipping is that it monetizes fossil fuels. Long distance logistics creates the economy, it requires money to flow through the banks, it consumes fossil fuels. It makes banks and oil companies rich and important. Whatever you get from china, banks and oil companies get a cut of the produce.

Shipping companies are an essential part of ‘global economy’ trap

But there is an opportunity here. Shipping in the current form will not stay, it is simply too dumb. Europe is going to tax imported solar panels from China, but how will it respond the import of a solar panel plant from China? Way more efficient because there is no real link between Euro’s and Chinese coal imports from Australia anyway.

"Commercial vessels emitted 3 percent of the world’s carbon in 2007, and that may increase to 18 percent by 2050 as global trade increases and fleets expand, said the UN’s International Maritime Organization." (source

Skysails Kites save fuel! can return the investment in 3-4 year!

Shipping can clean up, by starting to use wind power directly (using kites) or to make fuels, by starting to farm algae for biofuels at sea, by converting to Ammonia (NH3) altogether, but of course that would overturn the link with the fossil industry and the banking sector, which now makes the whole enterprise possible (ships get cheap almost unrefined fuel). For the shippers there’s only the desire to keep doing what they are doing though, so there is hope. 

Dolphins Riding the Bow of the Leda Maersk from Maersk Line on Vimeo.

Above video should be part of the media campaing where Maersk announces it’s first clean energy driven service. Slowsteaming is a speed that dolphins can keep up with, so they where seen playing in front of the bow. Pitty that bow bellows out poison a few hundred meters further back. Opportunity knocks.

Billions of gallons of fuel for the taking 

Richard Branson is on this as well, as he owns Virgin Atlantic. He tries to make ethanol fuel from flared CO using mircobes, so maybe ships can even do this at sea or in port, doubling the utility of the fuel!


Ampex Power, a startup of Shell and Nuon, does exactly the same thing as Skysails, but with a rigid wing instead of an inflatable kite. The system uses 1/20th of the materials for an equivalent turbine. This may work better, it will at least be cheaper. It seems the kite is actually a better solution because it does not require a runway. Why Ampex had to try and succeeded in getting 100.000 crowdfunding is a mystery, oh, no, because banks don’t like renewables, and Shell and Nuon don’t have cash!!

Secretly both Ampex and Skysails are VAWT, vertical wind turbines, that have always been cheaper and easier to build.

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