This announcement was made during an e-event broadcasted live from the MSC Virtuosa in Saint-Nazaire, which gathered industrial partners involved in the project.

The Solid Sail/AeolDrive solution was developed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the frame of its R&D program started in 2008, Ecorizon, aiming to enhance the large ships’ energetic effectiveness and environmental impact. This comes in line with the shipyard's goals to develop “zero-emission” ships before 2050, in accordance with Paris Agreement and European Green Deal.

As explained, Solid Sail/AeolDrive is one of the highest composite masts of the world, towering 95 m and will be installed in 2022 on Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s site. The centerpiece of the system, the rigging named AeolDrive – a mast tiltable through 70° – will support the Solid Sail, a 1,200 m² (1,435 yd²) sail made entirely of composite materials, both high-performance and foldable.

This installation will split into two phases. The first one with a 38 m long mast (125 ft) and a sail of 550 m² (657 yd²) during the fall of 2021, and the second a year later on a 1:1 scale.

The first commercial application for the Solid Sail/AeolDrive solution is destined to 200 m (655 ft) long cruise ships designing and manufacturing.

These ships will use both a sailing propulsion and engines, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 %. Other applications, including some with regard to cargo ships and large pleasure boats, are considered.

The solution resulted from cooperation between Chantiers de l’Atlantique and its industrial partners, from Brittany (Multiplast, AvelRobotics, SMM Technologies, CDK Technologies, Lorima, G SEA Design, Blew Stoub, Ocean Data System, Pixel Sur Mer and Awentech) for the mast and the sail, and from Pays de la Loire (MECA, Wichard, Nov-BLM, Lancelin, Baudin Chateauneuf and PL Marine) for the fitting equipment, along with support of the regions Brittany and Pays de la Loire and of the local authority of Lorient and Vannes.

A collective dynamic has been established around the Solid Sail /AeolDrive project, thanks to the mobilization of many regional players...We are going to maintain this momentum so that we can move up a gear when, after the final phase of testing, we can move on to the marketing of a solution adapted to the current and future challenges of an even more environmentally friendly navigation system,

...stated Laurent Castaing, General Manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Additionally, Solid Sail/AeolDrive received support from the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), called to action by the Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique (Brittany Atlantic Sea Pole), and from the PIA (Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir – Investment Program for the Future) operated by ADEME, the French Energy Management Agency, as well as funds from the 2020 European Research and Innovation Program (LeanShips project).

These new sails and rigs are the fruit of a beautiful collaboration between our manufacturers and our two regions. They push further the limits of knowledge and participate to create a more sustainable future,

...emphasized Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the regional council of Brittany.

From a scientific and academic point of view, the project was led in association with the TRI Jules Vernes, the ENSTA Bretagne (Grande École of engineering) and the Catholic Institute of Arts and Crafts of the West Coast.

It is an essential step for our shipbuilding industry, which made the environmental transition not only a way to diversify its activity, but also a technological challenge it intends to overcome,

...stated Christelle Morançais, President of the regional council of Pays de la Loire.