Sails make a comeback as shipping tries to go green
As the shipping industry faces pressure to cut climate-altering greenhouse gases, one answer is blowing in the wind.
European and U.S. tech companies, including one backed by airplane maker Airbus, are pitching futuristic sails to help cargo ships harness the free and endless supply of wind power. While they sometimes don't even look like sails — some are shaped like spinning columns — they represent a cheap and reliable way to reduce CO2 emissions for an industry that depends on a particularly dirty form of fossil fuels.
"It's an old technology," said Tuomas Riski, the CEO of Finland's Norsepower, which added its "rotor sail" technology for the first time to a tanker in August. "Our vision is that sails are coming back to the seas."
Denmark's A.P. Moller-Maersk , the world's biggest shipping company, is using its Maersk Pelican oil tanker to test Norsepower's 30 meter (98 foot) deck-mounted spinning columns, which convert wind into thrust based on an idea first floated nearly a century ago. Maersk pledged this week to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050, which will require developing commercially viable carbon neutral vessels by the end of next decade.
The shipping sector's interest in "sail tech" and other ideas took on greater urgency after the International Maritime Organization, the U.N.'s maritime agency, reached an agreement in April to slash emissions by 50 percent by 2050.
Transport's contribution to earth-warming emissions are in focus as negotiators in Katowice, Poland, gather for U.N. talks to hash out the details of the 2015 Paris accord on curbing global warming.
Notoriously resistant to change, the maritime shipping industry is facing up to the need to cut its use of cheap but dirty "bunker fuel" that powers the global fleet of 50,000 vessels — the backbone of world trade.
The IMO is taking aim more broadly at pollution, requiring ships to start using low-sulfur fuel in 2020 and sending shipowners scrambling to invest in smokestack scrubbers, which clean exhaust, or looking at cleaner but pricier distillate fuels.
A Dutch group, the Goodshipping Program , is trying biofuel, which is made from organic matter. It refueled a container vessel in September with 22,000 liters of used cooking oil on behalf of five customers, in what it called a world first that cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 tons.
In Norway, efforts to electrify maritime vessels are gathering pace, highlighted by the launch of the world's first all-electric passenger ferry, Future of the Fjords, in April.
Chemical maker Yara is meanwhile planning to build a battery-powered autonomous container ship to ferry fertilizer between plant and port. The Yara Birkeland, scheduled to enter service in 2020, will cut emissions by replacing the trucks currently used to do this job.
Shipowners have to move with the times, said Bjorn Tore Orvik, Yara's project leader.
Building a conventional fossil-fueled vessel "is a bigger risk than actually looking to new technologies ... because if new legislation suddenly appears then your ship is out of date," said Orvik.
Batteries are effective for coastal shipping, though not for long-distance sea voyages, so the industry will need to consider other "energy carriers" generated from renewable power, such as hydrogen or ammonia, said Jan Kjetil Paulsen, an advisor at the Bellona Foundation, an environmental non-government organization. Wind power is also feasible, especially if vessels sail more slowly.
"That is where the big challenge lies today," said Paulsen.
Wind power looks to hold the most promise. The technology behind Norsepower's rotor sails, also known as Flettner rotors, is based on the principle that airflow speeds up on one side of a spinning object and slows on the other. That creates a force that can be harnessed.
Rotor sails can generate thrust even from wind coming from the side of a ship. German engineer Anton Flettner pioneered the idea in the 1920s but the concept languished because it couldn't compete with cheap oil.
On a windy day, Norsepower says rotors can replace up to 50 percent of a ship's engine propulsion. Overall, the company says it can cut fuel consumption by 7 to 10 percent.
One big problem with rotors is they get in the way of port cranes that load and unload cargo. To get around that, U.S. startup Magnuss has developed a retractable version. The New York-based company is raising $10 million to build its concept, which involves two 50-foot (15-meter) steel cylinders that retract below deck.
"It's just a better mousetrap," said CEO James Rhodes, who says his target market is the "Panamax" size bulk cargo ships carrying iron ore, coal or grain.
High tech versions of conventional sails are also on the drawing board.
Spain's bound4blue's aircraft wing-like sail and collapses like an accordion, according to a video of a scaled-down version from a recent trade fair. The first two will be installed next year followed by five more in 2020.
The company is in talks with 15 more ship owners from across Europe, Japan, China and the U.S. to install its technology, said co-founder Cristina Aleixendrei.
Ship owners are now "more desperate for new technology to reduce fuel consumption," she said
Airseas , backed by European plane maker Airbus, plans to deploy its parachute-like automated kite sails on ships ferrying fuselages from France to Alabama starting in 2020. The company predicts that the "Seawing" will reduce fuel use by 20 percent on the 13-day journey.
December 06, 2018
Sources: ABC News
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net that's evaporating, possibly holding clues into the discovery of rocky "super-Earths."</p><p>Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland found the exoplanet GJ 3470b, which showed signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink.</p><p>The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA.</p><p>Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. </p><p>The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics."</p><p>The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun.</p><p>"This is the first time that a planet has been observed to lose its atmosphere so quickly that it can impact its evolution," said lead author Vincent Bourrier, a researcher in the Astronomy Department of the Faculty of Science at the University of Geneva, in a statement.</p><p>Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky. Just last month, a Super Earth was found orbiting a nearby star.</p>
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grocery delivery company announced.</p><p>The move comes a little over a year after Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Amazon has its own delivery service called AmazonFresh.</p><p>Whole Foods and Instacart began working together in 2014. Two years later, they signed a deal for Instacart to become the chain's exclusive delivery carrier.</p><p>Instacart currently employs 1,415 couriers, which it calls "in-store shoppers," across 76 Whole Foods locations.</p><p>About 75 percent of the employees will be transferred to other locations, Instacart Founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement. However, the remaining 25 percent — about 350 — will be laid off and will receive three-month separation packages as well as tenure-based compensation.</p><p>Instacart will begin winding down its operations at Whole Foods on Feb. 10 and exit the marketplace in the succeeding months, the company said.</p><p>"For our in-store Whole Foods shoppers who are personally impacted by this news, we’re deeply committed to being transparent about what this means for you and plan to share any updates with you as they become available," Mehta said.</p>
nished Google on Friday for disclosing the identity of a man charged with killing a female British backpacker, highlighting the tension that arises when local courts order the suppression of information that can be easily found online.</p><p>Google executives from the United States and Britain are set to travel to New Zealand to meet with Andrew Little, the justice minister, on Tuesday. Mr. Little is demanding that the company change its algorithms to ensure that material published outside New Zealand that violates local court suppression orders is not visible in the country.</p><p>The man’s name has been suppressed in New Zealand under a legal provision often invoked by defendants in the country that is meant to guarantee fair trials, and it was not released by local reporters.</p><p>But several British media outlets published it, and on Thursday Google included the man’s name in the subject line of an email sent to people in New Zealand who subscribe to a service that local topics that trending online.</p><p>“When we receive valid court orders, including suppression orders, we review and respond appropriately,” the statement said, adding that Google respected New Zealand’s laws.</p><p>Mr. Little, the justice minister, said he took “with a grain of salt” the suggestion that Google did not know, or would expect to be told, about suppression orders in the case.</p><p>“They’re going to have to change their algorithm, because it’s not right that they think they can get away with undermining fair trial rights,” he said.</p><p>Lokman Tsui, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a former Google employee, said it was a “scary standard” to say Google “should have known” about a suppression order in New Zealand.</p><p>“If that applies, that means they would have to actively monitor every court case going on in the world, looking for names and pre-emptively taking them down,” he said.</p><p>Mr. Little said he also planned to contact British publications that published the man’s name, adding that they could only have gotten it from reporters in New Zealand who found it in court filings in Auckland.</p><p>“I don’t have any legal pressure to put on them,” he said, adding that he did have “moral pressure, which I will be applying as hard and as fast as I can.”</p><p>“I don’t accept their arrogance and their conceit in saying that it’s nothing to do with them and New Zealand’s laws are New Zealand’s laws,” he added.</p><p>It was not clear whether the email about trending topics that breached the suppression order originated at the company’s operations in New Zealand or in another country, and whether it fell within New Zealand’s legal jurisdiction.</p><p>A spokesman, Taj Meadows, did not address where the email originated, but said it had been received by fewere than a few hundred people.</p><p>Mr. Little rejected the idea that the internet’s existence had rendered name suppression orders irrelevant.</p><p>He said he planned to ask the Google executives whether there was a problem with the company’s algorithms that allowed suppressed information to be distributed widely, and, if so, whether Google would take action to fix it.</p><p>If not, Mr. Little said he would consider a campaign that “might take years” to persuade other countries to agree to a treaty stating “that orders issued in one country can be enforced in another.”</p><p>“That way, publishers and republishers like Google don’t have the excuse that they’re not responsible, the law can’t be enforced, and they don’t even have to worry about it,” he said.</p><p>Professor Tsui, the former Google employee, said such an approach was not feasible.</p><p>“That solution would cause so many other problems that we really wouldn’t want to go there,” he said.</p>
d the spectacle was eye-opening. It underscored, to me, how Silicon Valley and Washington exist in their bubbles without really understanding each other. Lawmakers seemed like out-of-touch old people with little grasp of how technology works and where the real risks lie. Mr. Pichai came across as evasive and unwilling to acknowledge the legitimate concerns about Google’s business practices.</p><p>At holiday parties and informal discussions in Washington, the conversation often turned to big tech and privacy. There seemed to be a growing wariness among lawmakers, regulators and aides about data collection and the unrelenting push by companies to gather more information about us.</p><p>While many expressed concern about the bigness of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, there wasn’t a consensus on how to deal with them. A federal privacy law with real teeth seemed uncertain, and not many folks expected antitrust regulation even in the face of European action.</p><p>All the while, tech companies continue to sell the message that they are job creators and engines of economic growth.</p><p>■ An argument often made against antitrust action is that the technology industry is dynamic, and that today’s dominant predator can become tomorrow’s prey. Nokia once dominated mobile phones but lost its standing to Samsung and Apple in the smartphone era.</p><p>■ It’s rare for a bail hearing to make international news, but this was no ordinary arrest.</p><p>Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the tech behemoth Huawei and a daughter of the company’s founder, was arrested Dec. 1 at the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia, for extradition to the United States.</p><p>The American and Canadian authorities claim Ms. Meng circumvented trade sanctions against Iran, using a Huawei subsidiary. The arrest of a prominent executive at one of China’s biggest tech companies, with close ties to the government, complicates the Trump administration’s negotiations to end a trade war with China.</p>
land over ways to limit global warming, the industries and machines powering our modern world keep spewing their pollution into the air and water.</p><p> The fossil fuels extracted from beneath the earth's crust — coal, oil and gas — are transformed into the carbon dioxide that is now heating the earth faster than scientists had expected even a few years ago.</p><p> The devastating wildfires, droughts, floods and hurricanes of recent months and years are intensifying the urgency of the two-week conference in Katowice, which is due to end Friday.</p><p> But not far from the conference center, plumes of smoke rise from Europe's largest lignite, or brown coal, power plant, in the central Polish town of Belchatow. Of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, 36 are in Poland.</p><p> Elsewhere, from the U.S. to Japan and China, the coal plants, oil refineries and other installations needed to power factories and heat homes are playing their role in a warming earth.</p><p> The negotiators at the international talks are also discussing financial support to poor countries, which are bearing the brunt of drought and flooding, which translate often into agricultural disaster and famine and are a factor behind greater migration.</p><p> The challenge of reducing emissions is made more difficult by the growing demand in the developing world for fuel as people there also seek to achieve the benefits and comforts of the industrialized world.</p><p> In Africa and Asia, which have become dumping grounds for the rich world's waste, it is now common to see poor people scavenging for scraps of paper and other recyclable materials at garbage dumps, competing sometimes with crows or storks.</p><p> Fumes from cars are also playing their role in poisoning the air in many cities, from Jakarta and Katmandu to Moscow to Brussels.</p><p> Environmentalists in Katowice are warning that time is running out to prevent ecological disaster, a message also being taken up by artists.</p><p> In London, 24 large blocks of glacial ice from the waters surrounding Greenland have been placed in front of the Tate Modern and six at other city locations. Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson hopes his installation, called "Ice Watch" and launched Tuesday to coincide with the climate conference in Katowice, will impact people emotionally and inspire urgent public action.</p><p> The installation will be on show until the ice melts.</p>
:</p><p> German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Friday that "if we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable then it will trigger gigantic costs."</p><p> Trump said in an interview Thursday with Fox News that if he had remained in the Paris accord "we would be paying trillions of dollars, trillions of dollars for nothing, and I wouldn't do that."</p><p> The Paris accord requires countries to reduce their emissions, something scientists say will involve a wholesale shift in their economies. Rich countries have also committed themselves to providing financial support to poor nations to tackle global warming.</p><p> Negotiators at the U.N. climate meeting in Poland are gathering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> Among the key pitfalls to emerge overnight was the question of how to establish a functioning international market in carbon credits and whether some countries should get money for damage already caused by climate change.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>
thering to discuss the first comprehensive draft agreement to emerge after almost two weeks of talks.</p><p> Ministers and senior officials from almost 200 countries were due to hold further meetings Friday before convening in plenary in the afternoon to address remaining differences.</p><p> The meeting is meant to finalize the rulebook for the 2015 Paris climate agreement, provide assurances to poor nations on financial support for tackling global warming, and send a message that countries are committed to stepping up their efforts in the coming years.</p>