WHISPER wind-assisted ship retrofit project gets financial boost from EU

An energy transition project comprised of 14 partners, WHISPER, has been granted €9,2 million in funding from Horizon Europe, which will include retrofitting ships to achieve emission reductions.


The goal of the project is to develop a solution that can significantly reduce emissions from the long-distance maritime industry, which is responsible for around 2.5% of the world’s total CO2 emissions.

The consortium of experts around Europe will develop a fully modular retrofit solution, comprising a wind-solar hybrid power system to significantly reduce auxiliary engine emissions and a tilting wingsail system to provide wind-assisted propulsion.

WHISPER aims to demonstrate around 30% fuel savings on a retrofit bulk carrier and more than 15% on a retrofit containership, according to one of the partners participating in the project, French company AYRO.

“In the current context of fuel price volatility and the increasingly stringent environmental regulations with the implementation of the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) this year for the maritime industry, we see the WHISPER project as a catalyst for retrofitting the commercial vessels with breakthrough green technologies,” Marc Van Peteghem, chairman and co-founder of AYRO.

According to Van Peteghem, the project will enable AYRO to launch its first tiltable Oceanwings, addressing new segments such as the bulk carriers.

“We are proud and thrilled to be involved in this ambitious project with key maritime stakeholders, including other wind and solar technology suppliers,” he added.

AYRO has already won Approval in Principle (AiP) for its Oceanwings 3.6.3 wind-assisted propulsion system for ships from DNV GL. The system is designed to enable ship owners and operators to leverage wind energy to improve the energy balance of individual vessels and fleets, and cut carbon emissions.

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The WHISPER project consists of 14 partners: Verkis (project lead), Sidewind, AYRO, Solbian, CANOE, Ant Topic, Dotcom, Samskip, Nav-Tech, Stirling Design International, BBA/Fjeldco, Lloyds Register, Athyg li, and Inspiralia GmbH.

“We have high hopes for this innovative collaboration and truly believe that the project can be an effective tool in the fight against climate change. By combining and developing three innovative wind and solar technologies, and creating a modular, retrofit solution, we can lower the emissions of container and tank ships by 15-30%. If successful and widely adopted, WHISPER could reduce the emissions of the long-distance maritime transport industry by what equals the emissions of entire countries.,” Maria Kristin Drastardottir, co-founder of Sidewind, commented.

“Verkis is proud to have been chosen to coordinate this highly relevant innovation project. It aligns with our focus on energy transition, sustainability and innovation and builds on our expertise from sustainable energy projects. Verkis will also contribute the overall technical system design, LCA and aerodynamic simulations and we are certain that with our partners in the project, it will bring successful and impactful results. Energy transition of the maritime industry is complex,  and WHISPER could be a game-changing solution for this sector,” Kjartan Due Nielsen, Innovation Manager of Verkis, concluded.