‘Groundbreaking’ wind propulsion pact signed in France to decarbonize maritime sector

The French government and maritime stakeholders have signed a ‘groundbreaking’ pact for wind-assisted ship propulsion, a promising technology that has the potential to decarbonize the shipping industry.

Courtesy of Wind Ship Association

Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy and Hervé Berville, State Secretary for the Sea and Biodiversity, signed the agreement on behalf of the government at Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint Nazaire on March 28, 2024.

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By signing the pact, the French government confirmed its support for those involved in wind-assisted ship propulsion and is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of the maritime sector. The ultimate objective is to capture 30% of the global market share with French wind propulsion technology, the government informed.

“The development of the French sailing sector is a major opportunity for green reindustrialization. With this pact, the State confirms that it will continue its long-standing commitment to the development of this ecosystem in order to position France as a world leader in these technologies,” Lescure commented.

Maritime transport ensures France’s and Europe’s strategic supplies — 85% of European imports and exports arrive or leave by sea. Although it is the most efficient means of transport in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per tonne transported per kilometer, its environmental impact remains significant and represents 3% of GHG emissions globally.

As explained, one of the government’s objectives is to reduce the carbon impact of logistics flows, including the maritime sector. One of the solutions identified in the recent maritime decarbonization roadmap is the use of wind energy to propel merchant ships. Immediately available and free, the technology makes it possible to significantly decarbonize the sector, ranging from 5% to 80%.


In this context, a value chain ecosystem is emerging in France to intensify the use of wind propulsion solutions for ships. United around the Wind Ship Association, companies aim to design and produce efficient wind propulsion systems. They are supported by shipowners willing to test such solutions and launch new services offering carbon-free maritime transport.

This pact constitutes the triggering signal for the change of scale necessary for the consolidation of an emerging and promising market. Our ambition is to create several thousand jobs in this sector while saving 1 million tonnes of CO2 by 2030. Monitoring this pact will make it possible to measure the sector’s progress over the next 5 years,” Lise Detrimont, general delegate of the Wind Ship Association, noted.

The ecosystem brings together start-ups, SMEs and large groups that have already invested €1 billion in sailing projects and plan to double this investment in the next five years. The companies have also committed to achieving a minimum of 70% of the added value of wind propulsion systems in France and promoting their implementation in Europe.

“This ecosystem illustrates French skills and know-how in terms of technological and industrial innovation for the maritime sector. It demonstrates the commitment of French companies to the transition. I confirm the State’s continued commitment to supporting them and making the French sailing boat a reference for the decarbonization of the maritime sector,” Berville said.

Stakeholders involved in signing this pact include Armateurs de France, Association of Freight Transport Users and Coalition of Shippers for Low-Carbon Maritime Transport (AUTF), Bureau Veritas Group, GICAN, Cluster Maritime Français, TLF Overseas, Banque Populaire Grand Ouest, Crédit Maritime Grand Ouest, CIC, GO CAPITAL, Atlante Gestion, Épopée Gestion, FIMAR. The number of participants is increasing, according to Wind Ship Association.

The signing of the agreement coincided with the steel-cutting ceremony for OE Corinthian, the first sailing cruise ship in the Orient Express Silenseas fleet, at the abovementioned shipyard. The hybrid ship will be powered by wind and liquefied natural gas (LNG).

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