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Conceptual Study and Development of an Autonomously Operating, Sailing Renewable Energy Conversion System


With little time left for humanity to reduce climate change to a tolerable level, a highly scalable and rapidly deployable solution is needed that can be implemented by any country. Offshore wind energy in international waters is an underused resource and could even be harnessed by landlocked countries. In this paper, the use of sailing wind turbines operating autonomously in high seas to harvest energy is proposed. The electrical energy that is generated by the wind turbine is converted to a renewable fuel and stored onboard. Later, the fuel will be transferred to shore or to other destinations of use. The presented idea is explored at the system level, where the basic subsystems necessary are identified and defined, such as energy conversion and storage as well as propulsion subsystems. Moreover, various operating possibilities are investigated, including a comparison of different sailing strategies and fuels for storage. Existing ideas are also briefly addressed and an example concept is suggested as well. In this paper, the proposed sailing renewable energy conversion system is explored at a higher level of abstraction. Following up on this conceptual study, more detailed investigations are necessary to determine whether the development of such a sailing renewable energy conversion system is viable from an engineering, economic, and environmental point of view.

Funding source: This research was funded by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

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