Innovative Wind-Powered Shipping Aims to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Innovative Wind-Powered Shipping Aims to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • PublishedSeptember 18, 2023

Maritime traffic, responsible for 3 to 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, is embracing wind power to reduce its carbon footprint. The Canopée, a vessel tasked with transporting Ariane 6 rocket components, is leading the charge. Equipped with four 37-meter-high semi-rigid wings developed by French start-up Ayro, this summer marked a pivotal moment in maritime history.

These Oceanwings are not just for show; they are designed to save fuel and reduce emissions. They will provide between 15 and 35% of the Canopée’s propulsive energy on its crossings. This innovation draws inspiration from aeronautics, featuring semi-rigid, cambered wings that can be steered for optimal wind utilization.

While wind propulsion offers hope for greener shipping, experts caution that fuel savings may vary based on numerous factors, including wind strength, ship type, and sailing area. Nevertheless, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, aiming for zero net emissions “around” 2050.

Ayro aims to use the Canopée as a demonstrator to convince other cargo ships to adopt wind propulsion technology, with projects underway to adapt Oceanwings for larger vessels. This innovation, combined with strategies like slow-steaming, offers a promising path toward a more sustainable maritime industry, as the sector seeks alternatives to heavy fuel oil in its quest to reduce emissions.

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