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Reinventing the wheel: Wind-Assisted Propulsion

Reinventing the wheel: Wind-Assisted Propulsion

06 July 2021
Reinventing the wheel: Wind-Assisted Propulsion

The regulatory framework around emissions is becoming increasingly strict and wind-assisted propulsion could offer another route to decarbonizing shipping. Wind has been used to propel ships for centuries. However, the addition or use of sails and wind capture devices could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing a propeller’s thrust which would therefore reduce engine power and fuel consumption.

Following the success of their initial Wind-Assisted Ship Propulsion joint industry project (WiSP), the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) have now launched phase two of the project - WiSP 2.

The joint industry project aims to promote the use of wind propulsion and assess how to overcome the barriers to uptake. Now armed with additional insights from the initial phase, WiSP 2 aims to provide ship owners with evidence of the expected fuel savings to help owners make informed investment decisions against the backdrop of the upcoming carbon intensity indicator (CII) requirements. Importantly, evaluations will be made using real operational conditions and within the energy efficiency design index (EEDI) and energy efficiency existing ship index (EEXI). It will also look at regulatory compliance around manoeuvring and course keeping.

While the benefits and potential savings of wind-assisted propulsion are understood, challenges remain around accurate performance predictions which provides ship owners with the vital information needed to make investment decisions. The addition of a wind propulsion system (WPS) introduces a range of complexities, as vessels will be subjected to different wind speeds, velocities and directions, in addition to a number of other factors which could impact performance.

In addition to providing ship owners with valuable insights and recommendations regarding the use of wind-assisted propulsion, WiSP 2 will also look at improving methods for transparent performance prediction and will develop a basic performance prediction tool. The tool will be used by all participants in the project.

We look forward to hearing more about this exciting project in due course! For more information on the WiSP 2 project, you can visit MARIN at stand 1209 at Europort 2021.