Sep 21, 07 : New Wind Power Tech Could Change Cargo Shipping


KiteShip Making Breakthroughs

By: Terry McSweeney

SAN FRANCISCO, Sep. 21, 2007 (KGO) – An East Bay company is hoping to harness wind power in a way that could change cargo shipping forever. It’s a new twist on a very old technology.

The first sailing ship came into San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate in 1775. There’s nothing new about wind power. But there is something very new about the big plans to harness much more of that power.
A huge kite was on the Bay last weekend helping pull a 140 ton workboat from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alameda. KiteShip Corporation of Alameda put on the combination demonstration and experiment to promote this form of wind power. Company executives say it can reduce cargo ship fuel consumption by 10-25 percent — which would be huge savings.


“Ships burn $1 million, $2 million, even $5 million dollars of fuel per year,” said Dave Culp, KiteShip Corporation.

And it would clean up the air filling those kites.

“Every gallon of fuel not burned is three gallons of worth of CO2 that doesn’t go into the atmosphere, its huge amounts of sulfur dioxide that doesn’t go into the atmosphere, huge amounts of nitrous dioxide that doesn’t go into the atmosphere,” said Dave Culp.

KiteShip’s Dean Jordan assessed the partially windpowered cruise — not all went so smoothly.

“We didn’t get a practice and we had to fabricate all the equipment we used on the vessel to steer the kite,” said Dean Jordan, KiteShip Corporation.

There was trouble with one of the three wenches.

“The line would come on the wench and then lock up,” said Dean Jordan.

Still the experiment was educational. Jordan and Culp worked together in the 90’s on a kite for the Oracle/BMW team in the America’s Cup Yacht Race. He says had those on board the yacht deployed their kite, which was an approved spinnaker replacement sail — the USA would have defeated New Zealand and this type of wind power would be famous by now.

“Can you imagine Oracle wins America’s Cup by flying a kite – It would have made headlines around the world!” said Dean Jordan.

KiteShip hopes its next video will allow it to make headlines by engineering a 13,000 square foot kite to co-power vessels up to 600 feet in length saving $300,000 dollars in fuel per year, per vessel.

It seems it’s not a matter of if but when for this technology — companies in Europe and Asia are all working on this technology. The folks at KiteShip say the future is near. That those huge kites will be helping to haul huge cargo ships in three to five years.

Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.