How about wind power for cargo ships?

What do Viking boats, Chinese junks and Spanish galleons have in common? They are all propelled by wind power. Marine vessels propelled by the power of wind are nothing new. Humans have known about this since 3 400 BC when the first sailing ship was developed in Ancient Egypt. I wonder if they emitted any nasty chemicals that have contributed to climate change.

One thing we know for sure is today’s maritime vessels are certainly contributing to climate change.  Cargo shipping alone contributes about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than airplanes. Imagine if that figure included other boaty things such as your fancy cruise ships, tankers, sailing ships and fishing boats.  The main threat to the environment from cargo ships is Black Carbon which is produced from the types of fossil fuels they burn. There are other types of fuels that emit much less Black Carbon but they cost more. And for some world leaders, not mentioning any names, saving money is more important than saving the planet. Our planet that is. Earth.

Climate change technology versus space technology?

In Australia, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison had this bunch of words to say about climate change. “World history teaches one thing: technology changes everything. That is the game changer.” No doubt he was getting mixed up with his technologies. In this country, research and climate change technology is baseless while a dirty great chunk of coal is held in the highest esteem. It’s right up there with space travel.  The government’s priority is to launch a rocket to another planet. Or maybe it’s the moon. It’s all about jobs and growth. And maybe it’s a kind of insurance policy as well. Wreck our own planet. No problem. Let’s all move on. To another planet. I suspect many members of parliament are also members of the space program, the Australian Research and Space Exploration (ARSE) club.

Unlike rockets, maritime vessels, particularly cargo ships are essential. They facilitate international trade by transporting commodities around the world.  But this can only be sustainable if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. One way of doing this is by returning to wind power.

Meanwhile over in France ….

The French company AYRO located in Caen, is in the planning stages of manufacturing ‘articulated wings for the wind propulsion of ships’. In December 2021, the plant will begin assembly of four wing-shaped sails. The wings will be designed specifically for the Canopy project. Canopy is a cargo ship designed in the Netherlands to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The wings are expected to be delivered by late 2022. This innovation is expected be the way forward for the future of shipping.

Will Australia embrace this technology?

We don’t seem to like water vessels ‘down under’. Australia has policies such as ‘turn back the boats’. And then there was the 66-billion-dollar contract for French submarines. The contract was ripped up just in time for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) held in Glasgow this month. Many world leaders attended the conference including our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and the French President Emmanuel Macron. Unfortunately the media focused on the school yard type spats between Scotty and Manu over the broken contract. So it’s unlikely Australia will be signing up for any ‘articulated wings’ especially given they are manufactured in France. Australia will just have to put up with the deadly air pollution from marine vessels at least until we get a change of government. Or until Planet Earth is wiped out.



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