Ship harnesses the wind to recharge its batteries

Posted on 11 Mar 2018 and read 740 times
Ship harnesses the wind to recharge its batteriesNext year, the Norwegian sail-training ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl will be able to cruise out of Bergen harbour without producing any greenhouse-gas emissions, thanks to a hybrid power system from Rolls-Royce.

Norway’s state-owned company Enova is providing over NOK 4 million in financial support for an innovative project that will equip the historic square rigger with shipboard battery power.

Haakon Vatle, executive director of the Statsraad Lehmkuhl Foundation said: “The Statsraad Lehmkuhl has been relatively environment-friendly for over a century already, because wind power provides all the propulsion it needs for large parts of the year.

“We are now going to make her next 100 years even more environment-friendly, and hope she will become a role model for other sailing ships — and vessels of all types.”

Currently, the vessel uses diesel generators to power the shipboard systems and provide propulsion when necessary. However, the battery system will assist in both areas, cutting the number of generators that need to be kept running; it will also allow the power of the wind in the ship’s sails to be exploited.

Andreas Seth, senior vice-president (electrical, automation and control) at Rolls-Royce (, says the ship’s propeller will also be used to generate electricity, rather like a wind turbine.

“The amount of electricity produced will vary with the speed of the ship, but with our system the energy can be stored in batteries for use as engine power, or for day-to-day shipboard operations such as heating and cooking.”

Nils Kristian Nakstad, Enova’s managing director, said: “Given the shipboard battery revolution currently under way, we can safely say that a fresh wind is blowing through the maritime sector at the moment.

“Projects are under way to test battery solutions in practically every kind of ship –— and now even sailing ships. Moreover, while the battery system is being installed, the ship will be made ready to receive onshore power to recharge the batteries.”

Due to the ship’s busy sailing schedule, the project will not be completed until November at the earliest.

The Statsraad Lehmkuhl is Norway’s largest and oldest square-rigged sailing ship; it is also the oldest of the large square-riggers still in operation. The 1,516-tonne ship carries 22 sails with a total area of 2,026m2 and has reached speeds of over 18 knots under sail.

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