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Cargill chartered ship sets sail to test wind power at sea

Tuesday, 22 August 2023 | 12:00

A Cargill chartered dry bulk ship has launched on its first voyage since being fitted with special sails, aiming to study how harnessing wind power can cut emissions and energy usage in the shipping sector, the U.S. commodities group said on Monday.

The maritime industry – which accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions and is under pressure from investors and environmental groups to accelerate decarbonisation – is exploring a number of different technologies including ammonia and methanol in an effort to move away from dirtier bunker fuel.

Cargill, one of the world’s biggest ship charterers, has been exploring wind assisted propulsion as one cleaner energy option. Wind was a common way of propelling ships before the switch to steam and diesel engines but is now mostly used only for smaller vessels.

“It is risk taking. There is no guarantee … that the economics are going to work,” Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill’s ocean transportation division, told Reuters.

“But it is up to us to show the industry what is possible and hopefully get some more people confident around this technology.”

The five-year old Pyxis Ocean has been retrofitted with WindWings, large wing sails measuring up to 37.5 meters in height fitted to the deck of the cargo ship.

Dieleman said Cargill hoped to recoup the costs through fuel savings.

“If we are not going to get any real surprises, we are definitely going to scale this. The question is a little bit how and when,” he said referring to other ships they could use which were likely to be newbuilds.

Pyxis Ocean will sail from Singapore and head to Brazil and is likely to transport a cargo of grain to Denmark, Dieleman said.

The vessel is then likely to remain in the north Atlantic area to maximise wind usage, he added.

BAR Technologies, which has designed boats for the America’s Cup, developed the sails, which were built by Norway’s Yara Marine Technologies.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Jonathan Saul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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