A cargo ship with British-designed wind-powered sails has embarked on a historic voyage from China to Brazil, aiming to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 30%.
The ship, named Oceanbird, has four 80-meter-high metal cylinders that act as sails, harnessing the power of the wind to propel the vessel. The WindWings technology was developed by BAR Technologies, a spin-off company from the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team.
The project is co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, and led by Cargill, one of the world’s largest agricultural commodity traders, and BAR Technologies.
“The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonize—it’s not an easy one, but it is an exciting one,” said Jan Dieleman, President of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business. “At Cargill we have a responsibility to pioneer decarbonizing 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.”
It was developed by UK firm BAR Technologies, which was spun out of Sir Ben Ainslie’s 2017 America’s Cup team, a competition sometimes called the ‘Formula One of the seas’.
“This is one of the most slow-moving projects we’ve done, but without doubt with the biggest impact for the planet,” its head John Cooper – who used to work for Formula One team McLaren – told the BBC.
The cargo ship can carry up to 7,000 cars and has a top speed of 10 knots (18.5 km/h). It is expected to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to a conventional vessel.
“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 industrialization partner in Yara Marine Technologies, in order to provide vessel owners and operators with an opportunity to realize these efficiencies,” said John Cooper, Chief Executive Officer, BAR Technologies.
The cargo ship was designed by Wallenius Marine, a Swedish company that specializes in car carriers. The company said that Oceanbird is about revolutionizing technology for wind-powered car carriers and other large shipping vessels.
The project also received praise from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for regulating shipping. The IMO has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.
The cargo ship is expected to arrive in Brazil in late September, after sailing across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The voyage will be closely monitored by researchers and engineers, who hope to gather valuable data and feedback for future improvements.
-Cargill and BAR Technologies’ Ground-Breaking Wind Technology Sets Sail by Antara News, published on August 21, 2023
-Wind-powered Cargo Ship Sets Sail On Pioneering Voyage by FinanzNachrichten.de, published on August 21, 2023
-First Wind-Powered Cargo Ship Sets Sail by Greek Reporter, published on August 21, 2023