The Suez and Panama Canals have limitations such as choke points: “None of them allow ships to operate under sail. There is also a bridge over the Panama Canal, which is about 50 meters high,” says de Beukelaer. And of course, not all ships are adapted to sails. For example, container ships have too much space on the deck to mount them. Takes up less space, unlike a car carrier or bulk carrier, which tucks its load away in the cargo hold – leaving plenty of available surface – and does not require a crane for unloading.

According to IMO, there are Seven Ranges of wind propulsion techniques, which can be applied to virtually every type of ship. While the Oceanbird uses rigid sails, there are also soft sails, modeled after classic sailboats, but with more advanced materials.

For larger ships, rotor sails (also called Flettner rotors after their inventor) would be a popular choice. These are composite cylinders that rotate up to 300 times per second, generating thrust due to pressure differences. Similar-looking suction fins, or turbosails, developed by inventor Jacques Cousteau in the 1980s, do not rotate, instead relying on internal fans to create a suction effect. There are also huge kites and wind turbines, usually positioned about 200 meters above the ship, not much different from turbines used to generate electricity, but mounted on deck with the option of providing power or thrust . Finally there is the rudder form, in which the entire vessel is essentially designed as a large sail to catch the wind.

About 25 large, wind-powered cargo ships are already in operation around the world, with most of the technologies represented: “Rotor sails have had the most installations, one of the reasons is that they have taken longer to sail than others.” already started commercializing it in the U.S.,” says Gavin Allwright, secretary general of the International Windship Association, a non-profit organization founded in 2014 that promotes wind propulsion in commercial shipping. “Back then, the entire policy framework for shipping revolved around fossil fuels. Acknowledging and incorporating wind is an ongoing challenge, but we are increasingly seeing it happen: by the end of this year, we will have There should be 48, possibly 49 wind-powered ships, bringing us up to possibly 3.5 million deadweight tons of shipping.

It is a minuscule percentage of the world’s global Capacity 2.2 billion deadweight metric tons, as wind technology is still expensive in this nascent stage. “We’re still in the early days, but for every doubling of installations, we see a 10 percent reduction in cost,” Allwright says. “However, by 2023 it will likely exceed 20 or 25 per cent [savings]Because cutting costs early is the easier, lower-hanging fruit.

Allwright says other factors could be accelerating, which are streamlining the certification process for new wind-powered ships, as well as possibly the higher cost of fuel, which could be hit by new carbon taxes, such as the European The union has agreed. introduce In 2024. Another major enabler would be the acceptance of slower shipping times. according to imo EstimateAdding wind propulsion to just one ship can reduce emissions by more than 22 percent. However, increasing journey duration by a fifth increases it by about 50 percent, and halving it reduces emissions by 67 percent. A Study It has similarly been shown by the University of Manchester that emissions reductions on a ship with rotor sails increase from 10 percent to 44 percent when speed is reduced and a flexible arrival time is allowed.

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