Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Wind Power Still Needs Work to Ensure it Helps Transform the Maritime Future

Report Says Test Vessels put Technology on Track
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Over the past few years we have seen a steady growth in the belief that one of the oldest forms of maritime propulsion, wind power, can play a serious role in the fight to reduce the pollution from the global ocean fleet.

From the reintroduction of Flettner type rotors, to experimental sky kites used as airborne tugs, more major ship operators are looking to see if they can gain from the technology. Recently a new report was published by a group of over 40 leading experts and key stakeholders calling on industry stakeholders, technology providers, policy makers, finance and the International Windship Association to work more closely together to reduce or eliminate the remaining barriers that continue to challenge the scaling of wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

The report came about after a three hour workshop which used the 2016 EU-commissioned ‘Study on the Analysis of Market Potentials and Market Barriers for Wind Propulsion Technologies for Ships’ as the baseline to access progress and help to highlight areas for further development. That study concluded that up to 18,000 direct and indirect jobs could be created by 2030, with CO2 savings up to 7.5 megatonnes if wind powered technologies (WPTs) reach marketability by 2020.

Acknowledging that some WPT’s have already reached that milestone, and that the major classification societies have issued comprehensive guidelines for the installation of wind-assist propulsion systems, it would seem the drive to standardise assessment and application is well underway and the EU forecast seems to be on track, with ten demonstrator vessels in operation by the end of 2020 and likely to double by the end of this year.

Workshop participants however called on all key stakeholders to work more collaboratively on reducing or removing the final barriers holding back a technology segment that is available for scaling today. As Cathal Leigh-Doyle, Senior Associate, Stephenson Harwood LLP commented:

"The working group covered numerous important issues and in particular had extremely useful discussions about methods to increase wind propulsion technology information being shared across the sector between designers, fabricators and potential end users."

Workshop convener and moderator, Gavin Allwright, Secretary General of the International Windship Association commented that although much had been done, there was still work to ensure wind power established itself as an integral part of the maritime future, saying:

“This summary report is a call-to-action to facilitate the uptake of wind propulsion systems and will form the basis of the International Working Group that we will establish before the end of the year as part of the ‘Decade of Wind Propulsion’ announced earlier this year.

”All participants agreed that significant progress has been made, but there is still significant work required to secure trusted, third party verified information on the performance and operations for the market, access to sufficient capital for Wind Propulsion Technologies (WPT) development, especially full-scale demonstrators and the continued need to introduce and strengthen market and policy incentives to decarbonise vessels.”