MOL, Enviva team up on developing green bulkers

Wind Challenger vessel concept
Wind Challenger concept; Image credit MOL

 Enviva, a global energy company specializing in sustainable wood bioenergy, and Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) have signed a memorandum of understanding agreement to develop and deploy an environmentally friendly bulk carrier.

The goal of the agreement is to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the ocean transportation of sustainable wood pellets.

In the initial stage, the partnership will explore the environmental benefits, commercial and operational feasibilities of various technologies.

This will include the ‘Wind Challenger’, a cargo ship design with a hard sail, which would reduce emissions by harnessing wind energy.

“In our recently announced goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, we committed to proactively engage with our partners and other key stakeholders to adopt clean energy solutions in our supply chain and this is one of the first opportunities for us to explore carbon reductions in our Scope 3 emissions,” said Thomas Meth, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Enviva.

The two companies have been long-term partners in the shipping business.

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Toshiaki Tanaka, Managing Executive Officer, and Chief Environment and Sustainability Officer of MOL, said the partnership has perfect timing as MOL launches its new business entity, MOL Drybulk, this April.

“By integrating the various areas of Drybulk businesses amongst our group, MOL Drybulk will aim to improve our service and provide solutions to meet the various needs of our customers, including the reduction of emissions from our shipping service. This is not an easy challenge, especially when we aim to introduce new technologies such as the Wind Challenger.”

Plans to develop the Wind Challenger started in 2009 as an industry-academia joint research project led by the University of Tokyo. MOL took charge of the plan in 2018 and has been working on the technology since. The first Wind Challenger is scheduled to be released in 2022.

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The system converts wind energy to propulsive force with a telescopic hard sail. The long-term goal is to develop a widely accepted shipping solution to achieve the International Maritime Organization target in combination with other measures to reduce GHG by equipping vessels with multiple sails.