Japanese wind-assisted bulk carrier completes maiden voyage

  • Hard sail technology designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Second wind-assisted Mitsui ship will enter service in 2024

A Japanese bulk cargo ship, the ‘Shofu Maru’ partially powered by wind power, has completed its first voyage from Japan to Newcastle, on the east coast of Australia.  

The coal carrier built by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, can deploy a 15-meter-wide sail that extends to a height of 53 meters to use wind energy and augment the cargo ships engines, turning the wind into a propulsion force.

According to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines the sail can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% on a typical voyage between Japan and Australia. That reduction is equivalent to about 25,000 litres of fuel, for a trip of that duration the bulk cargo ship would normally use up to 500,000 litres.

On an average trip between Japan and the United States the sail is projected to cut emissions by as much as 8 per cent, due to more powerful winds in the northern hemisphere.

The height and angle of the hard sail wind power propulsion system are automatically attuned depending on the direction and strength of wind.

Now in service, the Shofu Maru will transport coal as a dedicated vessel for Tohoku Electric Power principally from Australia, Indonesia, and North America.

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