HomeWeather NewsNostalgia or Nonsense? • Watts Up With That?

Nostalgia or Nonsense? • Watts Up With That?

About the BBC article “Pioneering wind-powered cargo ship sets sail” by Tom Singleton.

The annals of history are dotted with examples of humanity looking to the past for inspiration. Yet, one has to chuckle when seeing modern behemoths of the sea considering the bygone era of sails as their next technological leap. The BBC’s recent article on this topic introduces a cargo ship attempting to cruise through modern logistics, not simply with roaring engines but with… sails?

Historic Enthusiasm or Mere Marketing Ploy?

Shipping firm Cargill seems to be floating the idea that British-designed WindWings might help reduce the industry’s carbon emissions, given shipping’s estimated 2.1% contribution to global CO2. But seriously, is this a genuine stride forward or just a quirky nod to yesteryears and or green fanatasies?

Claims in the Wind

For its flagship journey from China to Brazil, the Pyxis Ocean is set to test these majestic WindWings. Touting a height of 123ft and borrowing materials from wind turbines, there’s a claim in the air: a potential 30% reduction in a ship’s lifetime emissions. Sounds like someone may want to do a lifecycle analysis.

Savings or Just Hot Air?

BAR Technologies from the UK is behind this wind-inspired innovation, boldly claiming fuel savings of one-and-a-half tonnes per day. Magnify that with four wings and it seems we’re in for a six-tonne daily fuel reduction. But, with manufacturing outsourced to China, perhaps there’s probably more to these calculations than meets the eye.

A Windy Resolution?

While some experts see potential in harnessing the winds, the intent to cut down the 837 million tonnes of annual CO2 from shipping with kites, rotors, and sails might end up being a bit disappointing.

Reality Check with Numbers

Stephen Gordon, from Clarksons Research, offers a reality bite, highlighting the minuscule uptake of this wind-driven technology. Amidst the vast ocean of over 110,000 vessels, a mere 100 utilize such wind assistance. It’s akin to finding a needle in a… well, ocean.

A Step Forward or Two Steps Back?

The endearing image of ships going back to their wind-blown origins might evoke romantic tales of adventures on the high seas. But as a solution for modern-day shipping? The sails of the Pyxis Ocean might stand tall with hope, but the practicality of such a venture remains questionable at best. For now, the industry’s “back to the future” aspirations might need to stay anchored in fiction.

H/T Willie Soon


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