Wind-powered cargo ship sets sail in a move to make shipping greener

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A large red cargo ship named Pyxis Ocean set out on its maiden voyage this month. But unlike most others before it, this one is powered, in part, by wind.

The ship, chartered by US shipping firm Cargill, has been retrofitted with two WindWings – large steel sails 37.5 meters (123 foot) tall, designed by UK company BAR Technologies and produced by industrialization partner Yara Marine Technologies.

The wings are expected to generate emissions savings of up to 30%. If used in combination with alternative fuels, developers say that the savings would be even higher.

The voyage, which began in China and is currently headed towards Brazil, will put the technology to the test.

Wind power

The shipping industry produces more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, accounting for nearly 3% of human-caused global emissions. In July, the sector pledged to reduce its planet-heating pollution to net zero “by or around 2050.” The use of wind is one way towards this. While it’s not a new concept (sailing ships date back more than 5,000 years) new wind assisted propulsion technologies have been making an appearance in recent years.

Huge kites and rotor technologies have been tried on cargo ships in attempts to reduce their dependence on diesel. But according to the International Windship Association, there are only around 20 large commercial vessels equipped with wind propulsion operating today.

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