Ultrabulk vessel featuring sail technology

Ultrabulk, Partners to Study Sail Technology on Ships

Danish shipowner Ultrabulk is teaming up with Smart Green Shipping Alliance, UK’s power station operator Drax and Humphreys Yacht Design, to study the possibility of installing high-tech automated sails on some of its dry bulk vessels.

Image Courtesy: Smart Green Shipping Coalition

The GBP 100,000 (USD 128,400) feasibility study would examine the potential of retrofitting Fastrig sail technology on an Ultrabulk ship importing biomass into the UK for Drax power station in Yorkshire, to produce renewable electricity. This study’s purpose is to find cost-effective ways to reduce the carbon intensity of the ocean transport required in the biomass supply chain.

The 12-month feasibility study is funded by InnovateUK, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and private investors. During the first six months, the study will focus on assessing the technical feasibility of the project and establishing the engineering parameters for retrofitting Fastrig technology onto ships, while the next six months will focus on calculating detailed costings for the project and building the business case.

Depending on the outcomes of the feasibility study, the launch of the commercial demonstrator could be as soon as 2021, the parties informed.

“This is a project that could really make a difference. Working collaboratively with stakeholders from across the shipping system we can together scientifically identify and address big challenges,” Diane Gilpin, CEO and Founder of Smart Green Shipping Alliance

“As a group, we are engaging stakeholders across shipping, working with port owners, shipbuilders, financiers to design pragmatic and effective new systems solutions. This initial 12-month feasibility study aims to find the ‘sweet spot’ between reducing emissions and saving significant fuel costs,” Gilpin added.

“Shipping has been a part of our global transportation system for hundreds of years moving through wind and man-power to coal and diesel power. This project presents a new phase taking us full circle forward again to wind power, leading the way with state-of-the-art power and engine technologies enabling shipping to remain relevant and commercially viable in an increasingly low-carbon world,” Dr. Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at IMechE, said.