China wind-asssisted ship

Wind-installed vessels set to surpass 40+ target by year-end

The wind-assisted propulsion sector has experienced remarkable growth and continued momentum during the first half of 2023, with significant advancements reshaping the maritime industry.

Image credit CMES

During this period the sector has seen five new installations, the delivery of six wind-ready vessels, and boasts a promising pipeline of projects in progress, the International Windship Association (IWSA) said.

The adoption of wind-assisted propulsion technology has garnered widespread attention in the shipping industry, with numerous shipowners and operators recognizing its potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance fuel efficiency

Wind-assisted propulsion systems include solutions such as Flettner rotors, sails, and kite systems, among others. These technologies harness the power of the wind to provide auxiliary thrust, easing the burden on traditional engines and ultimately cutting down on fuel consumption.

Studies and real-world trials have demonstrated that wind-assisted propulsion technologies can potentially achieve fuel savings ranging from 5% to 20% on certain routes. In specific cases, with favorable wind conditions and optimal technology deployment, the savings may even exceed these figures.

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Looking ahead, the sector is poised for further growth and development in the second half of 2023.

IWSA anticipates a flurry of additional announcements in the coming months, leading to a significant surge in projects during the third and fourth quarters.

This activity acceleration suggests that the number of wind-installed vessels is well on its way to achieving its target of 40+ vessels by the end of this year.

2023 will be remembered as the year that the IMO set its level of decarbonisation ambition and made progress on the mid-/long-term measures to deliver on that. IWSA has maintained a clear, consistent message throughout, calling for a level playing field, with an ‘energy centric’ as opposed to a ‘fuel-centric’ approach and the delivery at low/no cost of high ambition targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050,” IWSA Secretary General Gavin Allwright, said.

This message was backed up by a CE Delft report; Shipping GHG Emissions 2030, that highlights that emissions could be reduced by between 28-47% by 2030 with a combination of wind, speed reductions and 5-10% new fuels with only a 6-14% increase in costs.

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Progress has certainly been made towards zero-emissions with the revised IMO GHG strategy, and while not-binding, much of the industry understands that the interim 2030 goal of up to 30% reduction in GHG’s will be vital if the shipping industry is to stay in touch with a 1.5C aligned goal for 2050.

“The proof of the pudding though will be in the eating and it will be the delivery of economic and technical measures that will underscore this heightened ambition, however the timeline for the economic measures is 2027 at the earliest, so much work to be done,” Allwright added.

The IWSA policy checklist also includes:

  • Recognition of wind propulsion as a zero-rated ‘fuel’ so that comparative LCA can be undertaken.
  • Inclusion of wind in any Global Fuel Standard (more appropriately – Global ‘Energy’ Standard).
  • High carbon price, and the majority of proceeds returning to the industry to fund decarbonisation.
  • A level playing field requiring a Well-to-Wake approach for LCA of fuels/energy sources.
  • The inclusion of 20-year global warming potential (GWP) of all emissions to ensure realistic comparisons (aligns with
    Ship lifespans [20-30 yrs] & environmental/climate tipping point risks).
  • Non-GHG climate forcing emissions should also be taken into account, including black carbon, VOCs, fugitive H2
    emissions and underwater noise, among others.
  • Enshrine the ‘just, fair and equitable’ principles to ensure no place or people are left behind

“Therefore, the message that we have delivered to national governments, the EU, the IMO and at the UN headquarters in New York has been that wind delivers on the most ambitious targets, it is the only propulsive energy source that will effectively pay for itself and a firm, robust and predictable framework for decarbonisation is what is needed for the industry to invest, scale quickly and weather the decarbonisation storm,” Allwright concluded.