What a sail can do, a kite can do even better. It flies higher and can therefore use significantly stronger wind currents. And it can easily be used with any ship without affecting its function.

Challenge: Wind energy instead of fuel and emissions

Once the wind blows, every ship has a free energy source that does not cause any emissions. So why not equip a ship with sails to use this energy? With cargo and container ships, however, conventional sails significantly limit functionality and usability.

The solution is a wind-powered drive that is largely detached from the hull and neither restricts the utilization of space of the ship nor interferes with the loading and unloading procedure. A kite fulfills exactly these wishes. It uses the free wind power, saves fuel and reduces the environmental impact.

Solution: A controlled kite that provides propulsion

SkySails was founded in 2001 by graduate industrial engineer Stephan Wrage. With a team of 50 employees, the company is committed to the use of offshore wind energy. SkySails is the first company in the world to develop this technology to market maturity.

In 2004, Stephan Wrage was honored with the Outstanding Young Person Award for the development of the SkySails system. In 2008, WWF and Capital magazine awarded him the title of “Eco-Manager of the Year”. In 2011, SkySails Marine received for the second time the prestigious Sustainable Shipping Award in the Environmental Technology of the Year category, supported by BIMCO, Lloyd’s Register and WWF.

In the metropolitan region of Hamburg, the company finds optimal development and production conditions. In addition to its headquarters in Hamburg, SkySails has also set up a production and testing center in Wismar within the Hamburg metropolitan region.

SkySails Marine is a project that started in 2001 and reached market maturity in 2012. The core of the system is a dynamically controlled towing kite. It is connected via a high-tensile towing rope with a start and landing system on board. This structure is located in the area of ​​the foredeck and therefore does not affect the cargo area or the loading and unloading process.

The system is operated via a control panel on the bridge of the ship. To activate the system, a telescopic mast expands, the kite unfolds and rises to a height of around 200 m in order to use the existing altitude winds. An automatic control system activates targeted maneuvers of the kite, which depend on the wind direction, wind speed and ship speed.

Potential: Environmental relief with cost advantage

In good wind conditions, the SkySails system can generate a power of up to 2 MW. That is up to 25 times more energy per square meter of space than would be possible with conventional sails.

One kilowatt of power per hour costs 6 cents for investment and maintenance of the system. That’s about half the cost of conventional diesel propulsion. At the same time, the CO2 emissions of a ship are reduced by up to 30 tons per day. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) therefore assumes that the SkySails technology can save up to 100 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. This corresponds to around 11% of the share of Germany.

August 2019

SkySails Marine
in Numbers

megawatts of energy from high-altitude winds
50 %
cost savings
tons of CO2 saved per ship
100 million
less CO2 emissions worldwide
11 %
of the total CO2 emissions of Germany


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