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Tuesday, August 3, 2021 

A new report from a group of over 40 experts and key stakeholders seeks to identify the strategy priorities for wind propulsion development in the near future, and to encourage industry stakeholders, technology providers, policy makers, finance and the International Windship Association (IWSA) to work more closely together to reduce or eliminate the remaining barriers that continue to challenge the scaling of wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

Gavin Allwright, IWSA Secretary General said: “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.”

The report applies a 2016 EU-commissioned ‘study on the analysis of market potentials and market barriers for wind propulsion technologies for ships’ as the baseline to assess progress and help to highlight areas for further development. The original report’s headline findings were that should some WPTs reach marketability in 2020, the maximum market potential for bulk carriers, tankers and container vessels is estimated to be 3,700-10,700 installed systems until 2030, including both retrofits and installations on newbuilds, depending on the fuel price, speed of the vessels, and discount rate applied. The EU study concluded that there was a potential for CO2 savings of 3.5-7.5t CO2 by 2030 and, in addition, the WPT industry could generate 6,500-8,000 direct and 8,500-10,000 indirect jobs.

Acknowledging that some WPTs have already been proven in operation, and that the major classification societies have issued comprehensive guidelines for the installation of wind-assist propulsion systems, IWSA considers that the drive to standardise assessment and application is well underway and the EU forecast seems to be on track. There were 10 demonstrator vessels in operation at the end of 2020, a figure that is likely to double by the end of 2021.

IWSA's study calls 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.

Hélène Smidt, Maritime Innovation lead, Royal Belgian Shipowners' Association said: “In order to fasten the uptake of any energy efficiency measure, commercial agreements need to be adjusted to reflect a more long-term agreement between shipowner/operator and charterer. In this way both parties can benefit from the fuel reductions realised by the investments.”

The IWSA study focuses on 12 remaining structural challenges in bringing wind propulsion technology to scale and the process identified over 40 solutions upon which further recommendations may be based. The study document can be downloaded here.

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