In recent years, there has been an increase of interest in equipping vessels to harness the power of the wind.
What was once romanticised as a historic way to sail cargo across the world’s oceans has become a credible option for modern vessels, fuelled by incoming carbon reduction targets and high fuel prices.
As the only industry association for wind-assist and primary wind technology developers, and institutions supporting the use of wind, the International Windship Association (IWSA) has welcomed a rise in the analysis, testing and verification of systems, in addition to the deployment of many demonstrator vessels since 2020.
Currently, twenty-one large commercial vessels have wind propulsion systems installed onboard representing over one million DWT of cargo carrying capacity. By the end of this year, IWSA estimates that wind propulsion technology will be installed on around twenty-five large commercial vessels, representing 1.2 million DWT.
Based on public announcements and shipyard orders made to-date, IWSA also estimates that by the end of 2023, up to fifty large ships will be making use of wind as a renewable energy source with a combined tonnage of over three million DWT.
In addition to the fleet of large commercial ships sailing with wind propulsion technology installed, ten small cruise ships currently use traditional soft sail technology representing a further 50,000 Gross Register Tonnage (GRT).
There are also a growing number of smaller vessels (under 400 GRT) using wind propulsion technology. The number of smaller vessels will also likely grow in the next year as more vessels are converted to sail cargo, retrofits on small fishing vessels are undertaken, and a demonstrator vessel is launched in the South Pacific.
Wind power offers the only truly emission-free, zero-cost energy source that can be delivered directly to a ship while it is sailing without fuel security or supply threats, IWSA stated.
In addition, Gavin Allwright, IWSA Secretary General, stated that “wind propulsion technologies are proven to save 5-20% in fuel use and associated emissions when used as wind-assist on motor vessel profiles. The savings potential is even higher for vessels that use primary wind technologies to achieve much higher levels of propulsive energy sourced from wind.”
With fifty wind propulsion system rigs installed to-date on those twenty-one ships, and an anticipated one-hundred rigs installed milestone to be passed by the end of 2023, the price of propulsion technology is coming down, Mr. Allwright concluded.
During the 2022 GREEN4SEA Forum, Gavin Allwright, Secretary General, International Windship Association (IWSA), talked about the application of wind power in the shipping industry, presenting market forecasts and the pipelines status towards industry’s journey to decarbonization.
As he explained, with regards to wind propulsion, things have been growing quite significantly in 2021 and into early 2022, there has been a lot of momentum growing.