Cargill, BAR Technologies, Yara Marine Technologies, and Mitsubishi have collaborated to develop a new propulsion system for large cargo vessels. The system, called “WindWings,” consists of rectangular sails that can be attached to cargo ships to harness wind power and reduce reliance on diesel fuel. The sails, which measure over 120 feet in height, were manufactured by Yara Marine Technologies and installed on the Pyxis Ocean, a cargo vessel chartered by Cargill. The project aims to help existing ships meet emissions limits and achieve fuel savings of up to 30%. The global shipping industry is responsible for approximately 3% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the International Maritime Organization has set a target of zero emissions by 2050.
The partnership between Cargill, BAR Technologies, Yara Marine Technologies, and Mitsubishi was funded by a European Union initiative to decarbonize the shipping sector. The sails were developed with the goal of retrofitting existing ships and improving the design and operation for future trips. The project organizers plan to monitor the Pyxis Ocean over the next few months and aim to build hundreds of sails over the next four years. This collaboration brings wind propulsion to modern commercial shipping for the first time, marking a significant milestone in the industry’s efforts to reduce emissions and adopt alternative fuels.
The use of sails for propulsion has a long history, with historians estimating that sails have been used by humans for at least 5,000 years. The WindWings system represents a modern adaptation of this ancient technology, offering a sustainable solution for the shipping industry. By harnessing wind power, cargo vessels can reduce their environmental impact and contribute to the global efforts to combat climate change.