World’s 1st wind-powered bulker wraps up maiden voyage

The world’s first bulker equipped with Wind Challenger, a hard sail wind power propulsion system, has completed its maiden voyage round trip back in Japan, Port of Noshiro.

Credit: MOL

Owned by Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), the coal carrier Shofu Maru finished its maiden trip on 15 November.

The 100,000DWT bulker was delivered and started operation this October. The naming and handover ceremony was held at Oshima Shipbuilding.

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As part of its maiden voyage, the vessel recently called at the Port of Newcastle.

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Shofu Maru is fitted with the so-called Wind Challenger system,  a telescoping hard sail that harnesses wind power to propel the vessel. The system converts wind energy directly to a propulsive force.

By installing the system, it is possible to reduce the amount of fuel used for operation, which is expected to reduce environmental impact and improve economic efficiency.

MOL estimates that the technology will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 5% on a Japan-Australia voyage and by 8% on a Japan-North America West Coast voyage, compared to a conventional vessel of the same type.

Wind propulsion technology alone can deliver around 22.3% reduction in carbon intensity when combined with speed reduction measures. However, this figure can reach up to 70% with in voyage optimisation, increasing voyage time by 50%, weather routing, and speed reduction measures, according to the International Windship Association (IWSA).