First Cargo Ship with Wind-Powered Technology Sets Sail

Cargo vessel with wind technology sails

(Credit: Cargill)

by | Aug 22, 2023

Cargo vessel with wind technology sails

(Credit: Cargill)

A cargo ship vessel has been outfitted with wind power technology, bringing wind propulsion to commercial shipping for the first time.

The vessel, Mitsubishi Corporation’s Pyxis Ocean, is chartered by Cargill and outfitted with two Bar Tech Wind Wings that are about 123 feet in height fitted to the deck. Harnessing the power of the wind, the vessel is expected to generate average fuel savings of up to 30% on new build vessels.

The technology comes from Cargill and BAR Technologies and the wind sails were produced by Yara Marine Technologies. The wings were installed at Cosco shipyard in China. The Pyxis Ocean is already on the water, introducing the shipping industry to a new method of saving fuel through wind propulsion. News of the ship’s maiden voyage with the wings comes as numerous industries are attempting to reduce their emissions in the face of climate change legislation and incentivization in the United States and around the globe

“The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonize — it’s not an easy one, but it is an exciting one,” Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill’s ocean transportation business, said in a statement. “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.”

The Wind Wings were created through partnerships with several companies. Plus, the project was co-funded by the European Union as part of the CHEK Horizon 2020 initiative, which aims for zero-emission shipping. The project also comes as 55% of the world’s bulker fleets are up to nine years of age, meaning the retrofit ability of the wings can help decarbonize already existing shipping vessels.

With Pyxis Ocean on the water, its performance will be closely monitored over the coming months. The data will inform design, operation, and performance improvements. Its pilot journey will also inform the scale-up and adoption across Cargill’s fleet, as well as the broader industry.

“If international shipping is to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions, then innovation must come to the fore,” John Cooper, CEO of BAR Technologies, said in a statement. “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.”

BAR Technologies and Yara Marine Technologies plan to build hundreds of wings over the next four years, and BAR Technologies is also researching new builds with improved hydrodynamic hull forms, the company said.

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