The large ropax ‘Viking Grace’ has become the only passenger ship in the world equipped with a rotor sail to harness wind power for propulsion.
Developed by Finnish clean technology and engineering company Norsepower Oy Ltd, the rotor sail solution will cut fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions by up to 900 tonnes annually.
Viking Line started to operate the ‘Viking Grace’ on wind-assisted voyages between Turku (Finland) and Stockholm (Sweden) on 12th April, 2018.
The cylindrical rotor sail unit installed on the ferry is 24 m in height and 4 m in diameter, and is a modernised version of the Flettner rotor; a spinning cylinder that uses the Magnus effect to harness wind power to propel a ship.
The system is fully automated and senses whenever the wind is strong enough to deliver fuel savings, at which point the rotors start automatically – optimising crew time and resource.
In operation since 2013, ‘Viking Grace’ is among the most environmentally friendly passenger ships in the world, as it is fuelled with LNG and has very low emissions and noise levels.
Commenting on the partnership, Jan Hanses, CEO, Viking Line, said: “This is a great day for us. As an Åland shipping company, we rely on the sea for our livelihood so it’s of prime importance for us to promote the well-being of the marine environment. We want to pioneer the use of solutions that reduce the environmental load.
“Based in Finland, Norsepower has developed a world-class mechanical rotor sail solution that will reduce fuel consumption. We are proud of the fact that our ‘Viking Grace’ will be the first passenger ship in the world to benefit from this innovative solution,” he said.
The basic design and idea of the Flettner rotor was conceived nearly a century ago. However, with the rise of environmental regulations, the concept of rotor sails has gained interest in the global maritime community. This is further enhanced by the advancements in manufacturing, material and technological solutions.
Tuomas Riski, Norsepower CEO, said: “For Norsepower, it’s an honour to contribute to making the ‘Viking Grace’ even more environmentally-friendly by means of our novel rotor sail technology. The last traditional windjammers in the world were owned and operated by shipping companies based in Åland, so it’s only fitting that Åland-based Viking Line should be a forerunner in launching modern auxiliary sail technology.
“Viking Line and Norsepower have collaborated in an excellent manner in retrofitting the rotor sail solution on the ‘Viking Grace’, and the completion of this project is a great moment for all those involved,” he said.
In addition to the installation on board the ‘Viking Grace’, Viking Line will also install two Norsepower rotor sails on board a newbuilding cruise ferry vessel, which is currently being built in China and due to be operational in 2020.