Over the last few years, ClassNK, the Tokyo-based classification society, has identified and supported the development of wind propulsion technologies. With the upsurge of interest in both wind-assist and primary wind propulsion solutions in Japan and in the industry worldwide, it is joining the International Windship Association (IWSA), the not-for-profit organization that for the last five years has been bringing together wind propulsion projects, shipping companies, shipyards and research organizations to help further develop this family of technologies along with promoting the wind as a credible, viable and increasingly economic propulsion option for commercial vessels.
In September last year, the classification society released its well-received “Guidelines for Wind-Assisted Propulsion Systems for Ships” to minimize potential risks of these installations on hull structure, crew, and surrounding environment.
Furthermore, it developed class notations for ships whose equipment is designed and installed in line with the guidelines. This was then followed by the successful Environment & Shipping seminar hosted by ClassNK in Tokyo in late October. This event, attended by 200 industry leaders, designers and engineers, helped showcase a number of wind propulsion solutions, including presentations from MOL’s team delivering the Wind Challenger retractable rigid sail system, the University of Tokyo’s new Wind Hunter design combining wind propulsion and onboard hydrogen production and further details of K-Lines slated installations of the AirSeas kite system.
ClassNK has more than 250 million gross tons on register and as one of the world’s largest classification societies it’s membership of IWSA sends a strong signal to the shipping industry that they are ready to work with designers, developers and shipping companies on these innovative technologies and that wind propulsion solutions will form an integral part of the industry decarbonization pathway as it strives to meet IMO emissions targets in the coming decades.
Momentum has been clearly building over the last year or so with announcements from a wide range of companies engaging with, testing and installing wind propulsion systems including Maersk Tankers, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, MOL, DFDS, K-lines, Renault, Airbus, Vale, Viking Lines, Drax, Ultrabulk, Chantiers De L’Atlantique, Wallenius Marine, Becker Marine, CMCS & DSIC and Oshima shipyards being just some of the names involved.
This pace of development is slated to continue with the UK government forecasting last year that the market for wind propulsion technologies will grow to a £2 billion a year market in the 2050s. A 2017 EU-commissioned report predicted up to 10,000 wind propulsion installations within the next decade alone.