Sails on merchant ships were either from the past or for the future. But sail retrofitting for existing vessels makes it very much today’s topic. A must for the climate and for economic exploitation.
Commercial shipping is one of the big polluters. Both climate and the environment suffer big from the enormous consumption of heavy and dirty fuel oil. Wind and solar power are clean and cheap. Equipping existing ships with high-tech sails appears to be a short term solution that serves the climate and the profitability of the shipowners.
Berge Bulk, BAR Technologies, and Yara Marine Technologies are about to install four WindWings on board the 210 DWT bulk carrier Berge Olympus.
The large, solid wing sails on board these bulkers will measure up to 50 meters in height and will be capable of reducing CO2 emissions by as much as 30 percent through a combination of wind propulsion and route optimization. WindWings will be installed on board Berge Bulk’s vessel in the second quarter of 2023.
More examples of sail retrofitting
Another example of sail retrofitting is Dutch shipping company Amasus Shipping, which will add two rigid sails to a 22-year-old general cargo ship. The company expects to reduce its energy consumption and emissions while also demonstrating the technology.
The 2,800 dwt cargo ship EEMS Traveler will be fitted this year with two rigid sails on the stern of the vessel. The 298 feet long vessel operates as a short sea cargo ship in Europe with a capacity to transport up to 150,000 cubic feet of grain or containers or large cargo. The sails will stand 56 feet heigh and are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 percent, according to The Maritime Executive.
A similar sail retrofitting unit was installed in December 2021 on M/V La Naumon, a retired general cargo ship that is now operating as an itinerant theatre-ship hosting arts programming as well as an onboard laboratory. The installation was part of a demonstration project in part co-funded by the European Union, in the framework of the GREENing the Blue project.
Standing approximately 59 feet off the deck, bound4blue said it was the largest suction sail ever built and installed on a ship. They explained the operation saying that the rigid sail is equipped with a tilting mechanism and an autonomous control system.
New concept coming soon: Oceanbird
Oceanbird is not about sail retrofitting. It is a totally new developed concept for a huge transport ship that includes wing sails. Part of the savings because of it’s specially designed hull, and recommendations regarding speed and routes, are also applicable for existing vessels (retrofit).
The first vessel from the Oceanbird concept will be a car carrier able to transport around 7,000 cars. The concept is based on a 200 meters long and 40 meters wide cargo vessel. To be able to get in and out of harbors – and as a safety measure and to be able to keep a schedule – the vessel will also be equipped with an auxiliary engine, powered by the best alternative available today.
The wing sails in this first product line are around 40 meters high and 14 meters wide. Prototypes of the wing sail will be tested in 2023.
One wing sail on an existing vessel will save around half a million-liter fuel, equal to 3,000 barrels of diesel a year and 1200 tonnes CO2. The calculations are based on wind probabilities along main trading routes, provided by IMO, on vessels that aren’t adopted for wind power sailing and are not on an optimal route for wind-powered sailing. The whole concept with a specially designed hull, full set of wing sails, and speed/route recommendations will reduce much more.
The first vessel with a full-scale wing sail prototype will be sailing in 2024. The aim is to sail the first vessel with a full set of Oceanbird wing sails in 2026.