Corsica Ferries sets sights on first wind-powered RoRo cargo ship

French ferry operator Corsica Ferries has decided to invest in compatriot start-up Neoline Armateur to help co-finance its first Neoliner, a wind-powered roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) cargo ship.

Corsica Ferries

“After very early limiting our carbon footprint as much as possible, it is now essential to turn to alternatives to fossil fuels. New options are opening up today with green hydrogen and sail propulsion. As a responsible shipowner, we have a duty to support the energy transition by supporting these solutions for the future,” Pierre Mattei, President of Corsica Ferries, stated.

The company’s first Neoliner will offer a capacity of 1,200 lane metres, 400 cars or 265 containers, representing up to 5,000 tons of goods. It will be equipped with Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s Solid Sail, a rigid sail made of composite panels assembled together, which was developed specifically for large vessels.

The project has been in the making since 2009 and following a series of tests in 2016 and 2019, the Saint Nazzaire-based shipyard embarked on the development of a suitable rig, known as Solid Sail/Aerodriving. 

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The sailing system received approval in principle from the French classification society Bureau Veritas (BV) in March last year.

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The Solid Sail will consist of two 75-meter masts for 3,000 m² of rigid sails. The self-supporting and automatically steerable rig can be rotated 360°, which represents a major innovation, according to the company.

“We are very happy to be able to count on the support of Corsica Ferries, which has completed the round of investors necessary for the construction of the first NEOLINER vessel, and we thank Pierre Mattei and Corsica Ferries for their trust and their commitment to reducing the impact of maritime transport,” Jean Zanuttini, president of NEOLINEdevelopment added.

Corsica Ferries plans to establish the first transport route to link St-Nazaire to the American East Coast (Halifax/Baltimore), via St-Pierre and Miquelon.  With a fleet of 14 ships, Corsica Ferries currently serves 22 lines.

Wind-assist and primary wind propulsion have great potential when it comes to decarbonizing the shipping industry, especially in the context of the EEXI and CII regulations as they can help vessels reduce fuel consumption and improve their carbon footprint.

Some of the key benefits of wind propulsion technology include the fact that as a direct propulsive energy source it can be used as a partial or main propulsion system. It requires no conversion thus avoiding power loss of up to 90% for alternative fuels based on a well-to-wake calculation.

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