The merchant shipping industry releases 2.2% of the world’s carbon emissions, about the same as Germany, and the International Maritime Organization estimates that could increase up to 250% by 2050 if no action is taken.
Finnish company Norsepower may have a solution in the spinning cylinders they’ve designed for ships to harness wind power and produce forward thrust. The result is a ship that needs less fuel to travel the seas – a major boost to the industry that transports 90% of international trade. VICE News took a ride on the Estraden, a cargo ship fitted with Norsepower Rotor Sails, to see the technology that can reduce a ship’s carbon emissions by 1000 tons per year. If all 50,000 merchant ships adopted Norsepower Rotor Sails, the costs saved on fuel would be over $7 billion a year, and the emissions prevented would equal more than 12 coal fired power plants.
While zero emission ships could be achieved using Rotor Sails paired with other alternative fuel sources, the economic incentives haven’t been strong enough to mobilize the industry just yet. But strides such as those taken by Norsepower could help kickstart a widescale greening of the industry.
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