Norsepower Harnessing wind power to clean up modern shipping

29 November 2021

Climate Investment

CI-Norsepower-Harnessing-wind-power-to-clean-up-modern-shipping CI-Norsepower-Harnessing-wind-power-to-clean-up-modern-shipping


Over one billion barrels of heavy fuel oil are burned every year to power the global shipping industry, moving some 90,000 vessels around the world. This bunker fuel emits large quantities of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter, and accounts for almost 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a figure that is projected to rise exponentially.


To reduce shipping’s environmental impact, Norsepower has developed Rotor Sails that harness wind power to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

A Rotor Sail is an auxiliary wind propulsion system designed to propel vessels via a spinning mechanical cylinder that creates a pressure differential. The lightweight, low-maintenance sails are highly automized and reduce average fuel consumption by as much as 20%, depending on the wind conditions and the ship’s operational profile.


Norsepower fitted two 30-metre Rotor Sails to the long-range tanker, Maersk Pelican – conducting a year-long trial in 2019 in partnership with the Energy Technologies Institute and Shell International Trading and Shipping Company.

A performance report prepared by Lloyd’s Register confirmed a total aggregated fuel saving of 8.2% over the year; cutting approximately 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Expanding impact

Rotor Sails are suitable for most vessel types and have been tested successfully in conditions ranging from hot tropical climates to freezing winter conditions. Maersk Tankers identified wind technology as one of the technologies that can help achieve their emission reduction targets. Allowing for a normal lifespan of 20-25 years for their ships, Maersk aims to have carbon neutral vessels commercially viable by 2030 in order to realize a 2050 net zero target.

Through simulations, Norsepower estimates that, if Rotor Sails were installed on the global tanker fleet, annual carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by more than 30 million tonnes – equivalent to annual emissions of 6.5 million cars.