Cargo ship with hard sails starts testing to reduce emissions

A groundbreaking cargo ship, boasting sails soaring as high as 10-story buildings, has commenced its inaugural voyage, heralding a new era. The Pyxis Ocean vessel embarks on a crucial mission: to trial WindWings sails, ingenious creations that harness the age-old power of air to dramatically curtail fuel consumption and carbon emissions in the shipping sector. Envisioned to potentially slash cargo ship carbon emissions by 30%, this innovation aligns with the industry’s formidable aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Coupling WindWings with alternative fuels could drive even greater reductions.

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To realize this vision, the ship has been retrofitted with two towering WindWings sails, each an impressive 37.5 meters (123 feet) tall. These rigid sails, fashioned from materials akin to wind turbines, offer a promising solution to integrate sustainability onto existing cargo vessels. The vessel’s maiden voyage charts a course from China to Brazil, symbolizing the reach of this transformative technology.

The endeavour is a result of collaboration between BAR Technologies, the ingenious minds behind the sail innovation, and key industry players: Cargill Ocean Transportation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Yara Marine. Jan Dieleman, President of Cargill, acknowledges the formidable challenge of decarbonizing the maritime sector, emphasizing the need for industry participants to drive innovation for progress.

In July, the maritime industry adopted a non-binding commitment to attain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “by or around” 2050. While not legally binding, this benchmark signals governments towards more stringent targets. Influenced by small island nations and less developed coastal countries, the agreement gained teeth, offering hope of limiting global warming to the critical 1.5-degree Celsius threshold.

Though wind power holds immense potential, its integration faces hurdles. According to Stephen Gordon, Managing Director at Clarksons Research, wind-assisted technology doubled in usage over the past year, albeit from a modest base. Among 110,000 international vessels, fewer than 100 currently embrace wind-assisted technology.

As the cargo ship embarks on its historic voyage, it not only pioneers sustainable shipping but also exemplifies collaborative endeavours to steer the maritime industry towards environmental responsibility. In its billowing sails lies a promise of greener horizons.