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To make shipping greener, Smart Green Shipping announces £5M investment in wing sail technology


Smart Green Shipping, which develops solutions to reduce emissions from the global shipping industry, has launched a £5 million research and development project. The collaborative three-year programme comprises a £3.2 million investment from the private sector and a further £1.8 million grant from Scottish Enterprise.

FastRigs sail technology

This project is aimed at its fully automated FastRigs wing sail technology and digital routing software that will harness the power of wind to deliver major fuel and emissions savings for the shipping industry.

Initially, SGS will test the FastRig wing sails at a land based site at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Centre in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin. It will develop its weather routing TradeWind software that creates route plans for wind optimisation. After the successful land-based tests, a demonstrator on board a vessel is expected to be tested by 2023.

The three-year project will resolve barriers in the wider industry uptake of the technology, with a host of technical, digital and financing solutions. The SGS team is also developing insurance products that will give confidence of predictable financial returns to commercial operators.

SGS founder Diane Gilpin said, “Scotland’s decision to support this project shows that wind technology has the might of a maritime nation behind it. Shipping has a long history of harnessing the power of wind, but digital technologies are allowing us to work towards making zero emission vessels a reality. Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig wing sail technology offers a financially and technically robust solution to help support shipping’s green transition.”

Scottish Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “The FastRig project is an excellent example of how innovation can help us progress in low carbon technologies and ensure Scotland is playing its part in these developments, creating more green jobs and business opportunities to take us on a Mission Zero for transport.”

Who uses FastRigs tech?

Smart Green Shipping was formed in 2014 by Diane Gilpin in the UK. It works across the shipping ecosystem from ship owners, operators to investors and cargo owners to design environmentally, commercially and technically viable ships.

Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig automated sail technology is compatible with up to 40,000 ships operating in the merchant fleet and can deliver at least 20% fuel savings and associated GHG reductions.

Major industry partners, including Drax, Malin, Peel Ports and LR, who, alongside SGS’s naval architects have optimised the technology and design. Lloyd’s Register has granted 1st stage Approval in Principle for the FastRig technology, which augments a ship’s powertrain.

Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group, said: “Reducing emissions from global shipping will be one of the key challenges of the energy transition. Drax has been a long term partner of Smart Green Shipping because we’re excited by their wind assisted sail technologies and the impact these technologies could have on our supply chain.”

Tom Wolodarsky, Technical Authority for Wind Propulsion Systems, Lloyd’s Register said: “We have now successfully completed the 1st stage of Approval in Principle of the technology which can assist in providing assurance to industry and demonstrate WAPS technology is a safe, viable option which follows well established, independent standards.”

In addition to FastRigs, the TradeWind tool has been optimised to gather data that will allow vessels to maximise the use of wind for a journey and optimise a vessel’s routing to minimise fuel consumption and arrive at a port at a designated time.

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