Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ocean Freight Using Wind Technology - Isn't That a Sailing Ship?

Not According to New International Association to Promote Propulsion Out of Thin Air
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – A new international association has been created with the sole aim of encouraging, advising and advocating the use of wind propulsion technologies in the shipping industry (obviously not exactly an original idea given the history freight borne by sailing vessels). The International Windship Association (IWSA) however says that it has garnered a great deal of support since its inception, registering around 50 members and supporters so far and expecting this number to swell in the coming months.

TheIWSA wants to facilitate and promote the technology, applications and general concept of wind propulsion for the global commercial shipping industry by bringing together all parties interested in catalysing the development and uptake of these technology solutions. The IWSA wishes to act on behalf of its members and supporters within the ocean freight sector in order to shape industry, regulators’ and international bodies’ perception of the concept of wind propulsion. Gavin Allwright, the IWSA Secretary, explains:

“Our goal is to be an advocate for the development of wind propulsion solutions in the industry, whether retrofit, wind-assisted, new builds or wind as the primary propulsion source. We recognise and applaud the efforts of the industry to reduce emissions, the increased interest in renewable energy sources and the gradual changing perceptions about wind propulsion.

“With the help of our members, supporters within the industry, academia and other stakeholders, the IWSA will be sending out a clear message: wind propulsion is a serious and increasingly proven option, financially a win-win situation and we are here to work with an industry ready for change.”

It was at the Carbon War Room’s Creating Climate Wealth Summit, late 2012, in Berlin that several representatives from the wind-assisted shipping sector came together to tackle the ongoing issues facing this area: isolated actions, lack of collaboration and limited sharing of knowledge. To address all of these issues, strong collaboration is needed between players involved in the wind propulsion sector.

The group of industry experts and innovators driving the IWSA, which has been established in the UK as an unincorporated, not-for-profit entity, include; B9 Shipping, Energy Ship/Modern Merchant Sailing Vessel, Fair Winds Trading Company, Norsepower, Propelwind, and Seagate Sail. Membership is available to all companies and organisations involved in the marine wind propulsion sector along with associate members and supporters.

There are already projects out there for consideration, the Vindskip™ for example is a concept vessel with a hull shaped like a symmetrical air foil. Any observer might be excused for considering such a ship’s performance in the teeth of a gale much as one might doubt the promise of ‘Airships of the Future’ when one examines the track record of those long promised creatures as futuristic air cargo carriers.

We have of course travelled this route before, not least with the lamented Beluga Shipping enterprise which tested its own ‘Skysails’ project before folding. On a smaller scale we have covered the activities of those such as the Dragonfly Project, sadly now seemingly closed whilst the Salish Sea Trading Cooperative and Vermont Sail Freight projects both seem to be alive, and hopefully, well.

Photo: The Vindskip™ an artist’s impression, note the lorries exiting via the rather precarious Linkspan, one wonders just how high up the hull the load might be stowed?