In a voyage that combines the nostalgia of old-school wind power with modern technology, a cargo ship furnished with rigid sails as tall as a 10-story building is embarking on its maiden trip. The vessel, named Pyxis Ocean, will put to the test WindWings sails, a system engineered to exploit wind power, diminishing fuel consumption, and the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. A promising 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from cargo ships could be on the horizon, a key step in the maritime sector’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. If this technology is combined with alternative fuels, the potential reduction could be even greater.
This cutting-edge ship has been outfitted with two WindWings, each standing at an impressive 37.5 meters (123 feet) in height. Crafted from materials similar to those used in wind turbines, these rigid sails can be affixed to cargo ships’ decks, offering a novel way for aging vessels to lessen their environmental toll. The ship’s first journey will plot a course from the distant shores of China to the lively landscapes of Brazil.
A pioneering collaboration between BAR Technologies (the sail’s developer), Cargill Ocean Transportation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Yara Marine is at the heart of this project. Cargill’s president, Jan Dieleman, encapsulated the urgency and challenge of the task by stating, “The Maritime Industry is an extremely hard industry to decarbonize. So, it’s akin to sailing in a storm without a compass. We have to innovate and really push the boat forward.”
BAR Technologies isn’t alone in navigating these waters. The shipping industry came together in July to agree on a nonbinding, though symbolically meaningful, goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 2050. While criticized as “toothless,” the agreement sent a clear signal, influenced by a robust push from small island nations and economically vulnerable coastal countries. Their collective efforts aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a critical line in the sand. Carlos Fuller, Belize’s UN representative, put it aptly: “They aren’t perfect, but they give us a shot at staying within 1.5 degrees Celsius. And that’s why we braved the storm.”
The world of wind power holds great promise, but steering the ship towards wide adoption isn’t smooth sailing. “We have the number of ships using this technology doubling over the past 12 months,” explained Stephen Gordon of maritime data firm Clarksons Research to the BBC. But he also noted the metaphorical iceberg on the horizon: “This is from a low base, however. In the international shipping fleet and new-build order book of over 110,000 vessels, we have records for under 100 having wind-assisted technology today.”
In a sea filled with challenges, the Pyxis Ocean’s sail test might just be the wind that propels the maritime industry towards a cleaner, greener future. If nothing else, it will surely cause ripples that might change the course of shipping, one gust of wind at a time. Now, isn’t that something worth sailing towards?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about cargo ship emissions
What is the purpose of the Pyxis Ocean’s maiden voyage with rigid sails?
The Pyxis Ocean’s maiden voyage is to test WindWings sails, which are designed to harness wind power to help reduce fuel usage and CO2 emissions in the shipping industry. The sail’s creators estimate that this technology could decrease cargo ships’ carbon emissions by approximately 30 percent, potentially more if used with alternative fuels.
Who are the collaborators in this wind power project?
The project is a collaboration between BAR Technologies (which developed the sails), Cargill Ocean Transportation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Yara Marine.
What is the height of the WindWings sails, and what material are they made from?
The WindWings sails are each 37.5 meters (123 feet) tall, and they are made from the same materials as wind turbines.
How does this project align with the shipping industry’s environmental goals?
This wind power project aligns with the shipping industry’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by around 2050. The use of wind-assisted technology is part of a broader plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
What are the challenges in adopting wind power in the shipping industry?
The main challenge in adopting wind power is its low current usage in the international shipping fleet. Despite the number of ships using wind-assisted technology doubling over the past 12 months, out of over 110,000 vessels, fewer than 100 are recorded as having this technology. The development and adoption of this technology in the maritime industry are complex and require innovation and collaboration.