SAFETY4SEA: Your organization has been shortlisted for the 2019 GREEN4SEA Awards in the ‘Initiative’ category alongside a number of other distinguished nominees. What would you like to share with industry’s stakeholders with respect to this development?

Gavin Allwright: Firstly, we greatly appreciate the opportunity this short-listing gives us to talk about the development of direct wind propulsion as a primary renewable energy propulsion solution for all sectors of the industry. Both as wind-assist and prime-mover wind applications, the wind propulsion trend is gaining momentum and many of our members are developing hybrid systems that will deliver significantly to the key shipping decarbonisation pathways. Retrofitted systems can deliver 5-20% and with potential up to 30% savings, whereas primary wind reaches 30% and much more – linked those savings with vessel and voyage optimisation, other energy saving technologies and alternative low and carbon neutral fuels, then we are looking at delivering on IMO 2050 pledges in this coming decade, with existing technologies and know-how.

Key industry stakeholders are planning, testing and installing wind propulsion systems, participants include; Maersk, MOL, Airbus, Ultrabulk, Renault Group, Viking Lines, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Ponant, Airbus, Wallenius Marine, DCIS and others.

S4S: How has your initiative influenced industry’s landscape? What are the key areas of attention?

G.A.: Our initiative has focused on a number of key areas where the impact is clearly measurable. The industry is searching for decarbonisation solutions, and while wind propulsion is very attractive, the large number of new technology solutions and providers that have developed those solutions has been a challenge to navigate, IWSA has been critical in bringing together the experts in the field, communicating what is possible and providing advice and guidance for industry stakeholders and our members alike.

Wind propulsion solutions are also being increasingly seen as facilitators for other alternative fuel systems, as the decrease in bunkering requirement can reduce the cost of converting over to more costly low carbon fuel systems. This hybrid approach is an energy management issue that large engine manufacturers are increasingly recognizing and developing the systems to handle.

On the policy and partnership side, IWSA has been very active in collaborating with both industry and non-industry bodies to further decarbonisation in the industry. This has created significant impact in the IMO and EU on this decarbonisation platform and we continue to bring together our members in international fora to further develop this solution based approach.

We have seen significant development in rotor installations to date, with six vessels in operation across key sectors including tanker, bulker, ferry/cruise, RoRo & general cargo vessels with a seventh vessel on order. These have 14 wind rotors in operation. Also, in the last 12 months there has been a significant increase in the number of seatrials and technology development partnerships for hard-sail, soft-sail, kite and suction wing/ventifoil technologies, signaling a very promising period of growth through 2020.


S4S: Do you have any new projects on the pipeline and/or plans that you would like to share with the rest of the industry?

G.A.: We will have an extensive roll-out of projects, events and programs over the next 18 months which we are very excited about. Our wind propulsion innovation clusters or hubs form a significant part of that. These bring together all of the stakeholders involved in developing, testing and taking wind propulsion technologies to market. We have already established the IWSA Europe – Atlantic hub, and laid foundations for IWSA Europe – North Sea and Baltic. These will be followed this year by hubs in Asia, North America & Oceania. We have seen a substantial increase in requests for information from the industry and we will be launching a technology readiness level award system which will assist the shipping market in the initial assessing wind propulsion technology development. We are also in the process of expanding our education program to reach out to more maritime academies, universities etc.

S4S: If you could change one thing about the shipping industry, what would it be and why?

G.A.: Establishing a hypothecated (or ring fenced) bunker levy would be a very positive step forward. Similar to the way that the Norwegian NOx fund operated, but for GHG’s, this levy would not disappear into national coffers, but be earmarked for grants and low cost loans for ship owners to install decarbonizing technologies. In addition, using some of those proceeds to reduce the financial impact and assist the small ship owners and developing regions in the transition and place then squarely on the right track. There would also be a strong case for some innovation and incubation funding for emerging technologies and research.

In the very short term costs would likely rise, but all of the revenue would be allocated back to shipping and as fossil fuel use declines, so would the need for the fund - who could argue with that? The price of carbon is rising steeply, nearly trebling in 2018 to €20 per ton from €7 at the start of the year, which equals around €65/ton of fuel and this is set to rise further and faster, so this system would be ‘money in the bank’, future proofing the industry against a very expense black carbon economy.

S4S: What is your key message to the industry for a more sustainable future of shipping?

G.A.: We need to work together if we are going to have a sustainable future in the industry and in the wider world. The science is already in, the Paris agreement target of 1.5C is starting to look unattainable, however shipping, through the medium of the IMO became the first industry to set a numeric target for decarbonisation – ‘at least’ 50% reduction in GHG by 2050 should be celebrated, but we should focus on the ‘at least’ part – the tools are there, the finance can be arranged, so it comes down to whether we will continue to lead this movement – I think we can, and we should!


You may cast your vote for  IWSA at 2019 GREEN4SEA Awards dedicated webpage till 22nd of February 2019!


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.