Photo: Image Courtesy: Smart Green Shipping Coalition

IMechE: UK Govt should back development of a demonstration ship fitted with sails

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), a registered charity in England and Wales, has called on the U.K. Government to support the development of a demonstration ship with retro-fitted sails.

Fitting sails to cargo ships and sailing more slowly could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping industry by up to 40% or possibly more as technologies improve, according to IMechE’s new report.

This is extremely important having in mind that shipping emissions have grown rapidly over the last decade and could account for 20% of global emissions by 2050 if unchecked.

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The charity believes that by building a demonstration ship, ship owners and users would be enabled to understand how renewable wind can be used as primary propulsion on modern ships. What is more, it could provide a compelling exhibition at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021.

The short technical policy paper provides an introduction to the propulsion solutions available to shipping that can enable rapid decarbonisation.

This includes the use of wind as the primary energy, hybrid wind and/or fossil/alternative fuels and the potential for biofuels, hydrogen and ammonia as drop-in replacements for bunker fuel. 

The report recommends that the UK shipping industry and users work with the government on creative funding sources to build a ‘2050 now’ ship that demonstrates how a fully autonomous fuel ship that creates and manages its fuel could operate.

This should include the creation of government funding schemes to support technologies targeting to decarbonize shipping.

It also proposes that the International Maritime Organisation rethinks its recent decarbonization targets, as it believes the UN body should be more ambitious and aim for a reduction closer to 70% to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement.