A lot of the world’s commerce is done at sea by huge cargo ships that burn enormous amounts of fuel idling near ports waiting to load up. This may change in the future with the development of Stillstrom charging buoy, a wind-powered solution.
Offshore wind-powered charging stations
Sebastian Klasterer Toft, a Stillstrom program manager, noticed that there was a good deal of fuel burned by ships idling offshore. Responding to this in a green way, he and Danish shipping company Maersk Supply Service developed the Stillstrom charging buoy.
Essentially, this device is a charging station that can be placed in deep water and receive power from offshore wind farms or land-based energy sources. Ships then simply float up, moor themselves onto the buoy, and plugin and power up with renewable energy.
When waiting to dock, ships usually just sit in a farther out anchor zone, burning fuel. The Stillstrom buoys would be placed in this zone, and the ships can plug into power for all of their non-movement-related functions while they wait to come in.
A renewable change in shipping?
The first set of proof-of-concept buoys will be launched off the coast of the UK this year. If all goes well, Stillstrom plans to install these wind-powered buoy systems in 50 to 100 ports over the next five years, giving many countries’ fleets a chance to charge and save gas.
Thinking ahead, the same technology could be used to charge hybrid or electrically powered ships, according to Maersk.
“This is a global product because shipping is global but we also recognize that right now it is just going faster in some geographies than others,” Toft said.