Post-Panamax Bulker to be Retrofitted with Wind Rotors in 2024

wind rotor sails
Rendering of the installation to be completed in the coming months of rotors on a large bulker (Oldendorff)

Published Feb 5, 2024 8:19 PM by The Maritime Executive


Norsepower, a Helsinki, Finland-based manufacturer of modern wind rotors confirmed that a previously announced project to retrofit wind rotors on a large bulker is proceeding with the installation to be completed in the second quarter of 2024. The project involves the well-known shipping company Oldendorff and a vessel that operates under charter to Teck Resources, one of Canada’s leading mining companies.

Oldendorff which owns a fleet of 130 bulkers and currently has a total of 724 in operations counting charters, has been participating in a series of studies for the past few years to explore the potential of wind-assisted propulsion and specifically the application of the modern version of the century’s old rotor. The Norsepower Rotor Sail is a modernized version of the Fletter rotor that was first displayed in the 1920s. The rotors use a small amount of the vessel’s power to spin and that creates the propulsion force that lowers fuel consumption and emissions with the savings more than offsetting the operating cost of the rotors.

“We are extremely excited about reducing fuel consumption and emissions by harnessing the power of the wind,” said Torsten Barenthin, Director of Research & Development for Oldendorff. The company reports it has already built over 100 eco-friendly bulkers in the last decade and is also pursuing other elements including biofuels. In 2022, the company working with Lloyd’s Register and Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute along with another rotor manufacturer, Anemoi Marine Technologies, participated in a study on the potential for rotors on large bulkers. The first project focused on a 210,000 dwt Newcastlemax bulk carrier from Oldendorff validating the potential savings. 

Oldendorff has been working with Teck since November 2021 to reduce supply chain emissions. They estimate the efforts have already saved approximately 115,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The installation, which will happen by mid-2024 involves three 79-foot tall and 13-foot diameter rotors (24m x 4m) that will be installed on the Dietrich Oldendorff, a 100,449 dwt dry bulk carrier with a length of 770 feet (235 meters). The huge, spinning rotors are partly manufactured from approximately 342,000 plastic bottles.

Built in 2020, the vessel carries shipments of Teck’s steelmaking coal from Vancouver, Canada across the Pacific to Asia. The rendering shows the vessel outfitted with three rotors offset on the starboard side between the six hatches so as not to interfere was cargo operations. 

The companies report they have analyzed forty years of weather data which confirms that the trade between the Pacific Northwest and Asia is one of the best trade lanes for producing reliable wind energy.