Your next beef patty may be propelled across the ocean by a kite-powered ship. Cargill, purveyor of grain, livestock, and fats for processed foods, signed an agreement this week with SkySails to install a giant kite on one of its long-term chartered ships.
Cargill’s kite-powered vessel comes courtesy of SkySails‘s patented technology, which involves connecting giant parasail-like kites to ships via rope and allowing them to generate enough propulsion to cut down on fuel use (by 35%, in ideal conditions). The kites are controlled by computers that steer their flight path for maximum wind benefits.
In Cargill’s case, a 320-square meter kite will be attached to a ship that carries a load of up to 30,000 deadweight tons. The kite-propelled ship will be the largest of its kind when it is ready to go in early 2012.
Cargill isn’t the first major company to take advantage of SkySails’s kite technology. Last year, GE chartered a SkySails-powered cargo vessel to transport power-generating equipment.
But now that GE and agricultural giant Cargill are both on board with kite-powered ships, SkySails’s business will probably take off. And that’s a good thing for the shipping industry, which is set to spew up to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 if no action is taken.