Norsepower to propel Maersk tankers with Finnish sail technology

Norsepower Oy has signed a cooperation agreement with Maersk, Shell Shipping and the UK-based Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) on the installation of the world’s largest rotor sail onboard a tanker in order to gather usage experiences. In the future, these mechanical sails will reduce marine fuel emissions.

A rotor sail, i.e., a mechanical sail, was originally invented as early as the 1920s. It is based on a pressure difference generated between the two sides of a spinning cylinder, which generates propulsion. However, it is only in recent years that this innovative propulsion technology has been successfully put into practice in the maritime sector. The challenge is to make the sail sufficiently light and balanced so that it uses as little energy as possible for rotation and operates in a reliable manner.

Norsepower's rotor sails are made using a particularly lightweight and durable composite material, and their operation is fully automated. Norsepower holds seven patents on the various technological innovations used in the sail, including its automation and mechanics and the manufacturing technology for the composite materials.

Norsepower has managed to take the technology further than any of its global competitors. The company sold its first sails to the shipping company Bore. Since then, Norsepower rotor sails have been ordered for the Viking Grace passenger and car ferry. In 2018, larger rotor sails of approximately 30 metres in height will be piloted onboard Maersk tankers.

Pilot projects with companies further extend the lead over competitors

Tekes has supported Norsepower's product development and business pilots with loans and grants since the very beginning. Since its foundation in 2012, the company has gained a clear lead over its competitors.

"Tekes provided funding for our first reference project, in which we installed rotor sails onboard Bore's ro-ro vessel, M/V Estraden. This project was vital for us since without our first company pilot we would not have been able to prove the viability of our technology on a commercial scale," says Tuomas Riski, CEO of Norsepower.

"As a result of this reference project, also larger operators became interested in our expertise. Meanwhile, our competitors have not had pilot projects with companies in this sector, which has given us a clear lead," Tuomas Riski concludes.

"Reducing emissions in sea traffic is a major trend. Norsepower's solution is unique, protectable and scalable. Furthermore, the underlying team is highly competent and multi-skilled," Programme Manager Piia Moilanen of the Arctic Seas programme said in summary of the reasons why Tekes has provided funding also for the development of Norsepower's latest, larger rotor sail.

Emission reduction targets increase the attractiveness of the sail technology in the future

The participation of the world's largest marine companies in Norsepower's project indicates that they see large-scale business potential in its technology. Fuel price developments and emissions trading mechanisms will further increase the attractiveness of this technology since it reduces the ship's fuel consumption – for example, in the case of the Maersk tanker, by approximately ten per cent.

In addition to product development, the projects supported by Tekes have involved construction of a business network. Norsepower has also actively participated in export promotion trips organised by Finpro.

"In the past few years, things have proceeded smoothly and we have obviously managed to take advantage of the various funding alternatives as well as the Team Finland services," says Tuomas Riski.

At present, it seems that the Finnish wind technology knowhow will continue to attract international partners, funding and demand.

For further information, please contact

CEO Tuomas Riski
Norsepower Oy
Tel. +358 (0)50 330 5732
tuomas.riski (at) norsepower.com

Text: Suvi Salmela, Motiva
Photo: Norsepower

Sanna Nuutila