Smart Green Shipping wins funding for its wing sail tech

UK maritime tech firm Smart Green Shipping (SGS) has received a £5 million ($6 million) investment to develop and test fully automated, emission-reduction wing sail technology that can be retrofitted to merchant ships.

Smart Green Shipping

The collaborative three-year programme has been made possible by a  £3.2 million investment from the private sector, which unlocked a further £1.8 million grant from Scottish Enterprise.

Courtesy of: Smart Green Shipping

The company will work on the project with partners including Malin, Drax, Peel Ports and Lloyd’s Register. They have already optimised the technology and design to ensure easy retrofitting and cargo access during port operations, according to Smart Green Shipping.

Specifically, over the course of the project, SGS will test its FastRig wing sails at a land based site at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Centre in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin.

It will further develop its weather routing TradeWind software that creates route plans for wind optimisation. Following successful land-based tests, a demonstrator on board a vessel is expected to be tested by 2023.

The FastRig technology is expected to benefit up to 40,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet – primarily bulker and tanker ships. 

Modeling tests, undertaken by SGS in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit, show that the technology could create at least 20% fuel savings and GHG reductions for retrofits, with as much as 50% fuel savings possible for small and medium sized new build ships.

“Reducing emissions from global shipping will be one of the key challenges of the energy transition. Drax has been a long term partner of Smart Green Shipping because we’re excited by their wind assisted sail technologies and the impact these technologies could have on our supply chain,” Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group, said.

“Shipping has a long history of harnessing the power of wind, but digital technologies are allowing us to work towards making zero emission vessels a reality,” SGS founder Diane Gilpin stressed.

The FastRig technology has already won 1st stage approval in principle (AiP) from Lloyd’s Register.

“LR is dedicated to supporting the development and safe adoption of green technologies that will contribute to decarbonising the maritime sector and the FastRig wing sail technology will help shipowners with the transition ahead,” Tom Wolodarsky, Technical Authority for Wind Propulsion Systems, Lloyd’s Register added.

The FastRigs technology has been developed alongside industry, with a year-long InnovateUK and Institute of Mechanical Engineers-backed feasibility study in 2018 and in-depth consultations with the wider shipping industry to overcome obstacles to adopting the innovation, including funding mechanisms.

SGS developed its digital tools to predict and optimise wind use in shipping in collaboration with the European Space Agency business incubation centre in 2019.

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