Energy - Environment - Mobility

Position Paper Alcimed – Wind propulsion: how to decarbonize maritime transport

Published on 06 July 2022 Read 25 min

The adaptation of our economic system to the climate crisis talks the maritime industry into reinventing itself. While thermal propulsion systems have been dominating the sector for the last 200 years, decarbonized solutions are now emerging. Amongst them, Wind Propulsion technologies are now resurging in a new way.

Maritime transport needs to be reinvented in a climate crisis context

Maritime transport plays a predominant role in our economic system: 117,000 ships represent 90% of the worldwide trade. Despite its efficiency, maritime transport plays a major role in the environmental crisis.

Martime transport represents 3% of the worldwide carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, i.e. 11% of the emissions of the global transport sector.

Driven by the need to reduce both fuel costs and CO2 emissions, industrial players are multiplying initiatives. In a context where maritime transport plays a predominant role in our economic system, wind could once again become the world trade fuel.

Wind propulsion technologies: are they the solution to decarbonize maritime transport?

Wind propulsion consists in using the energy potential of the wind to motorize a ship.

Wind provides an abundant and free energy, immediately valorized and available to any kind of ship worldwide. It does not require investment efforts in new infrastructure or costly supply chain systems.

However, the development of wind propulsion raises many questions. What does wind propulsion look like now? How does it fit into the strategy of decarbonizing maritime transport? What are the conditions for the development of the wind propulsion industry? During their explorations, Alcimed teams were able to provide answers to these questions.

In this position paper, you will explore:

  • The typology of wind propulsion solutions and providers
  • How wind propulsion can be part of a wider decarbonization strategy of maritime transport
  • The key success factors for the development of the wind propulsion industry

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