Kite Flying System for Cargo Ships

This is a step beyond other measures we have reported on under the heading ‘Green Shipping’ e.g. LNG vessels, Hybrids, Lithium-Ion Battery power, Scrubbers and Emissions Surcharges – not forgetting retro-fitting cargo vessels with sails. The latest innovation is an automated kite-flying system called Seawing, and K Line is backing it.

Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) has a 20-year agreement with the manufacturer of the kite-flying system, Airseas, with options for the Seawing to be installed on 50 of its vessels in total.

The French company, a spin-off of Airbus Group, developed the automated kite system that uses wind power. It has the potential to help vessels reduce up to 20% of CO2 emissions. In combination with alternative fuels, the savings are expected to be even greater.

But now the start-up has been placed in accelerated receivership, according to reports from the French media which says the company has been experiencing financial troubles lately, making it a target for a potential buyout. K Line, being the company’s only client, emerged as the most likely candidate for the acquisition.

The Japanese shipping major confirmed the buyout on Friday (16 February) and revealed that it has established a new company in France named OCEANICWING SAS. K Line said the acquisition was in line with its desire to further develop the Seawing and commercialize it.

Five years ago, when still in the design stage, Airseas inked an advance 20-year agreement with K Line, with options for the Seawing to be installed on up to 50 of its vessels. Since then, K Line completed the installation of the first Seawing on a Capesize bulk carrier at the end of 2022.

The second vessel to feature a Seawing will be a newbuild LNG-fuelled 210,000 dwt bulk carrier, which is currently being built at Nihon Shipyard. According to the Japanese shipowner, the installation will follow upon the vessel’s delivery, which is scheduled for later in 2024.

K Line has confirmed orders for three additional Seawing systems, bringing the total of vessels that will use Airseas’ wind propulsion technology to five.

Last year they revealed they had agreed with compatriot electric utility Electric Power Development (J-POWER) to install the Seawing on a coal carrier Corona Citrus. The 88,000 dwt special coal carrier is chartered out to J-POWER.

In addition, the system was recently put through its paces during sea trials on the vessel Ville de Bordeaux, as it transported aircraft components between Europe and the United States. The 154m ro-ro vessel is operated by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (LDA) and chartered by Airbus, Airseas’ minority shareholder and launch customer.

We report regularly on ‘Green Shipping’ developments and it will be interesting to see whether any other carriers besides K Line, J-Power and Airbus take up options on the kite-flying system.

Also see our recent related article, Emissions Surcharges to be Applied by Carriers.

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