The WindWings are being upgraded on the Pyxis Ocean at the COSCO Shipyard in Shanghai, China.

A wind-powered cargo ship is sailing in a move to make shipping greener

Editor’s note: Call to Earth is a CNN editorial series committed to reporting on the environmental challenges facing our planet, as well as solutions. Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative Partnered with CNN to raise awareness and education about key sustainability issues and inspire affirmative action.


A large red cargo ship called the Pyxis Ocean set off on its maiden voyage this month. But unlike most other systems before it, this one is powered in part by wind.

The ship, chartered by the American shipping company Cargill, has been modernized with two WindWings – large steel sails 37.5 meters (123 feet) high, designed by British company BAR Technologies and produced by manufacturing partner Yara Marine Technologies.

The suites are expected to generate emissions savings of up to 30%. And if used with alternative fuels, developers say the savings will be even higher.

The flight, which started in China and is currently heading towards Brazil, will put this technology to the test.

The shipping industry produces more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide each year approximately 3% of global human-caused emissions. And in July, the industry pledged to cut global pollution to zero “by 2050 or so”. And using wind is one way to achieve this. Although not a new concept (sailing ships date back more than 5,000 years), new wind-assisted propulsion techniques have been developed. appearing in recent years.

Kite and jumbo rotor technologies were tried on cargo ships in an effort to reduce their dependence on diesel. But according to International Wind AssociationToday, there are only about 20 large commercial wind-propelled ships operating.

Entrance to Cargill – One of the world’s largest agricultural merchants, moving around the world 225 million tons of commodities every year – can be impressive.

John Cooper, CEO of BAR Technologies, tells CNN that the company has joined us He was essential in building momentum for WindWings. “They lead the way, and others respectfully observe what they do,” he says.

One of the main benefits of the WindWings project, which is co-funded by the European Union, is that it offers a retrofit solution that can help reduce carbon emissions from existing ships. According to Cargill, 55% of the world’s freight fleets are up to nine years old.

Not only do suites help reduce a ship’s emissions, but they’ll also help ship owners meet new people Industry rules on energy efficiencyAnd save money by reducing fuel consumption, according to Cargill. The company says that on the average global route, WindWings can save 1.5 metric tons of fuel per wing per day, with the potential to save even more on ocean-going routes. The company notes that this may become even more important when using environmentally friendly products Future fuels (such as ammonia and methanol), which are expected to be more expensive.

Experts have noted that for wind-supported technologies to be widely deployed, their cost must be matched by the fuel savings they provide.

The wind wings are made of a composite of steel and glass, and before the ship enters the harbor or passes under the bridge, it can be folded onto the deck to avoid collisions. They were installed on Pyxis Ocean in Shanghai, before the ship traveled to Singapore, where it was fueled and officially launched.

The performance of the wings will be carefully monitored along the way so that improvements can be made to the design before it is mass produced.

Cooper says BAR Technologies already has other contracts in the pipeline, including a vessel chartered by Vale and equipped with four WindWings due to sail from Shanghai in September.

“We look forward to supporting the global shipping industry as it transitions to a cleaner, cleaner drive and design,” he says.

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