A vessel powered by a new cutting-edge wind propulsion technology has set sail on open waters, bringing the ground-breaking innovation to commercial shipping for the first time. Mitsubishi Corporation’s Pyxis Ocean, chartered by Cargill, is the first vessel to be retrofitted with two WindWings, which are large wing sails measuring up to 37.5 meters in height that can be fitted to the deck of cargo ships to harness the power of wind.
Developed by Cargill and BAR Technologies and produced by industrialization partner Yara Marine Technologies, WindWings are expected to generate average fuel savings of up to 30 percent 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 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 those targets by offering a retrofit solution that is capable of decarbonizing existing vessels, which is particularly relevant given that 55 percent 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 newbuilds with improved hydrodynamic hull forms.
Jan Dieleman, President of Cargill’s Ocean Transportation business, commented: “The maritime industry is on a journey to decarbonize — it’s not an easy one, but it is an exciting one. 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.”
John Cooper, Chief Executive Officer at BAR Technologies, stated: “If international shipping is to achieve its ambition of reducing CO2 emissions, then innovation must come to the fore. 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.”