By Jeslyn Lerh
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore-based Berge Bulk has launched a ship fitted with steel-and-composite sails to cut fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, with an eye to converting more vessels that ply routes with favourable wind conditions.
The dry bulk carrier Berge Olympus, equipped with four sails known as WindWings, is chartered by mining giant Vale and will sail between Brazil and China, Berge said on Tuesday.
The sails will save up to 20% fuel or six tons per day on an average worldwide route and cut carbon emissions by about 19.5 tons per day.
Berge is taking a multi-pronged approach to becoming carbon neutral by 2025, while the maritime industry seeks ways to accelerate decarbonisation.
“If we can make our existing ships more fuel-efficient at the first stage, that’s essential. The intention is to roll out all of these kinds of energy-efficiency devices across the fleet,” Berge Bulks’ CEO James Marshall told Reuters on the sidelines of the ship’s unveiling event on Oct. 12.
“There’s basically not enough (alternative) fuel to supply the existing ships, let alone the rest of the world,” said Marshall.
The maritime industry accounts for nearly 3% of global CO2 emissions and is under regulatory pressure to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050.
The ship has also been retrofitted with a shaft generator system, which can be driven by the main engine to supply electric power to the ship, increasing energy efficiency.
Measuring up to 37.5 metres in height and 20 metres in width, the sails were developed by UK-based BAR Technologies and built by Norway’s Yara Marine Technologies.
U.S. commodities trader Cargill is also testing wind-assisted propulsion, and recently launched a voyage with a leased bulk carrier equipped with WindWings.
Berge Bulk has also conducted bunkering trials using biofuels since last year, while it considers methanol an interim solution and ammonia for the longer term.
Marshall said the company was currently in discussions for methanol-powered bulkers but had yet to place orders.
“We’re concentrating on retrofitting. I think new expansion would come with new-fuel vessels. So again, we’re probably waiting for that a little bit until the vessels are available and the technologies are available.”
(Reporting by Jeslyn Lerh; Editing by Tony Munroe and Mark Potter)