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First cargo ship with WindWings sets sail

Composites the key to significantly reducing emissions in maritime transition.

29th August 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Oslo, Norway & Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Transport/​Aerospace, Sustainable

Mitsubishi Corporation’s Pyxis Ocean, chartered by Cargill, is the first vessel to be retrofitted with two WindWings, which are large composite wing sails measuring up to 37.5 metres in height that can be fitted to the deck of cargo ships to harness the power of wind.

Produced by industrialisation partners Yara Marine Technologies, of Oslo, Norway, and Bar Technologies of Portsmouth, UK, they are expected to generate average fuel savings of up to 30% 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.

“The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonise – 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 decarbonising solutions across all our supply chains. A technology like WindWings doesn’t come without risk, and as an industry leader – in partnership with Mitsubishi – 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, can help the industry meet targets by offering a retrofit solution that is capable of decarbonising existing vessels, which is particularly relevant given that 55% 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 new builds with improved hydrodynamic hull forms.

© Cargill

“If international shipping is to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions, then innovation must come to the fore,” said John Cooper, CEO of BAR Technologies. “Wind is a marginal cost fuel and the opportunity for reducing emissions, alongside significant efficiency gains in vessel operating costs is substantial.”

On an average global route, WindWings can save 1.5 tons 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) at around $800 per ton, which will become even more important when saving against future fuels which will undoubtedly cost a lot more.

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