Commercial shipping has discovered a surprising new tech – SAILS |
It may sound like a step back in time, but shipping has discovered sails. A cargo ship has been fitted with cutting-edge, so-called “wind propulsion” units. Called WindWings, the large wing sails measuring up to 37.5 metres in height and can be added to the deck of commercial vessels. Mitsubishi Corporation’s Pyxis Ocean, chartered by US global food corporation Cargill, is the first vessel to be retrofitted with two WindWings. Produced by industrialisation partner Yara Marine Technologies, they are expected to generate average fuel savings of up to 30 percent on new build vessels, which could be even higher if used in combination with alternative fuels. The installation of the wings took place at the COSCO shipyard in China and the Pyxis Ocean is now on the water, conducting her maiden voyage. Jan Dieleman, President of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business, explains: “The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonise—it’s not an easy one, but it is an exciting one. “At Cargill we have a responsibility to pioneer decarbonising solutions across all our supply chains to meet our customer’s needs and the needs of the planet. “A technology like WindWings doesn’t come without risk, and as an industry leader – in partnership with visionary shipowner Mitsubishi Corporation – we are not afraid to invest, take those risks and be transparent with our learnings to help our partners in maritime transition to a more sustainable future.” The installation demonstrates a step-change in attitudes towards technologies that can enable an energy transition for existing vessels. The WindWings project, which is co-funded by the European Union as part of the CHEK Horizon 2020 initiative, seeks to help the industry meet zero emissions targets by offering a retrofit solution that is capable of decarbonising existing vessels, which is particularly relevant given that 55 percent of the world’s bulker fleets are up to nine years in age. The performance of the WindWings will be closely monitored over the coming months to further improve their design, operation, and performance, with the aim that the Pyxis Ocean will be used to inform the scale-up and adoption across not only Cargill’s fleet but the industry. BAR Technologies and Yara Marine Technologies are already planning to build hundreds of wings over the next four years and BAR Technologies is also researching newbuilds with improved hydrodynamic hull forms. John Cooper, Chief Executive Officer, BAR Technologies, says: “If international shipping is to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions, then innovation must come to the fore. “Wind is a near marginal cost-free fuel and the opportunity for reducing emissions, alongside significant efficiency gains in vessel operating costs, is substantial. “Today is the culmination of years of pioneering research, where we’ve invested in our unique wind sail technology and sought out a skilled industrialisation partner in Yara Marine Technologies, in order to provide vessel owners and operators with an opportunity to realise these efficiencies.” The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set ambitious goals in the fight against pollution and climate change. The main one aims for reduction of carbon intensity of all ships by at least 40% by 2030 and a targeted 70% decrease by 2050 compared to 2008 baseline. WindWings aim to help vessel owners meet new efficiency rules. As wind power is not only zero emissions but is also non-depleting and predictable, it offers significant efficiency gains in vessel operating costs. According to a Cagill release, on an average global route, WindWings can save 1.5 tonnes of fuel per WindWing per day – with the possibility of saving more on trans ocean routes. This can translate into vessel owners saving heavy fuel oil (HFO) of around $800 per tonne, which will become even more important when saving against future fuels which will undoubtedly cost a lot more.