Wind Propelled Ships Now a Reality

In late March 2024, there were 37 wind propulsion-installed vessels along with eleven wind-ready ships which have a combined total of 2.5 million dwt, the International Windship Association (IWSA) revealed. A critical mass of demonstrator ships is forming in the bulker, tanker, RoRo and general cargo segments, with developments in other ship segments accelerating, too.

IWSA pointed out that the number of ships installed (including wind-ready units) with wind propulsion has effectively doubled in the twelve months to April 2024. In the last twelve months to March 2024, there were 22 installations and wind-ready ships delivered compared to eight in the year before.

Japan: MOL installs the Wind Challenger System
Last week, MOL revealed it would install the Wind Challenger hard sail wind propulsion system on coal carrier Kurotakisan Maru III. According to MOL, this is the first time in the world that the Wind Challenger will be installed on an in-service vessel.

Kurotakisan Maru III has a length of 235 meters, a breadth of 38 meters, and 90,000 deadweight tons. The installation of the Wind Challenger onboard the vessel is scheduled for the second half of 2025.

MOL says it has accumulated extensive operational technology to pursue wind propulsion technology. The group plans to launch 25 vessels equipped with the Wind Challenger by 2030, increasing to 80 by 2035. MOL is scheduled to deploy its second vessel, a 64,000 dwt bulker, with the Wind Challenger in June and today reported a total of six additional newbuilding bulk carriers, 42,000 dwt and 58,000 dwt, and one multipurpose vessel.

Germany: ESTE Shipping to add wind-powered ship
Germany’s shipping company ESTE Shipping has decided to add a wind propulsion system-equipped vessel to its fleet of mini bulkers in 2025. Founded in 2007, ESTE has eleven vessels in its fleet, apart from the wind-powered newbuild. The majority of the company’s vessels fly the European flags.

The 5,200 dwt vessel will fly the flag of Madeira. With a gross tonnage of 3,850t, the vessel will feature a length of 89.98 meters and a width of 15.45 meters. The ship belongs to the 5200 XL series designed by Dutch design and engineering company Groot Ship Design. The design combines an ultra-large cargo hold, ice class 1A, and efficient powering.

UK: WingTek’s Wind Auxiliary Propulsion (WAP) system.
UK-based maritime engineering start-up WingTek, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the National Composites Centre, has won a £2.2 million (US$2.7 million) innovation grant for the development of a new wind auxiliary propulsion (WAP) system.

The WingTek Wingsail. Wind Auxiliary Propulsion is a technology that complements existing ship propulsion systems; primarily the marine diesel engines burning fossil fuels which power vessels of all types across the global fleet.

The project will deliver two full-size operational prototypes, one on-shore for long-term testing and development and a second unit installed on a commercial UK vessel for sea trials, with the project scheduled to be completed by March 2025.

France: The Government’s Wind Assisted Propulsion Technology
The French government and maritime stakeholders have signed a ‘groundbreaking’ pact for wind-assisted ship propulsion, a promising technology that has the potential to decarbonize the shipping industry.

By signing the pact, the French government confirmed its support for those involved in wind-assisted ship propulsion and is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the maritime sector. The ultimate objective is to capture 30% of the global market share with French wind propulsion technology, the government informed.

Maritime transport ensures France’s and Europe’s strategic supplies — 85% of European imports and exports arrive or leave by sea. Although it is the most efficient means of transport in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per tonne transported per kilometre, its environmental impact remains significant and represents 3% of GHG emissions globally.

See this related article from our archives: Wind Powered Cargo Ships

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