Huge sailing ship could be cure for cargo’s massive CO2 output

The stats are absolutely astounding on the enormity of emissions from the container ships that ply the oceans taking products from one continent to another.

Now French corporation Neoline is going back in time to figure out a cleaner, better way to do it. Their solution? Sails.

The Neoline project was founded in 2015 with the conviction that “the working sail is the only truly sober, immediately available and powerful enough solution to propel cargo ships”.

First an idea of just how carbon dirty container ships are. Take your pick for the comparison that hits you hardest, from The Economist and INews:

  • 1 container ships = the same pollution as 50 million cars
  • 15 mega-ships = all of the cars on the planet.
  • 7% (about 1/15) of global CO2 emissions come from the shipping industry.
  • If the shipping industry were a country, it would sit between Japan and Germany as be the 7th-largest contributor to global CO2 emissions.

So what is the Neoline solution? Pretty amazing: industrial-scale wind-powered freight services. In particular, a 136-metre ship with 4,200 square metres of sail area.

The world’s largest container ship, the OOCL Hong Kong, is 399 metres long

For comparison’s, sake, the fossil fuel burning container ships are over 300 metres, about the length of 3 soccer pitches or NFL fields, and the largest nudge up to 400 metres. The sail area of the Neoline vessel is about 4/5 the the size of one football field, 2/3 of a soccer pitch.

The main point here is that the sailing ship has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent compared to a traditional cargo ship on an equivalent route.

Group Renault is an important new partner

Now the project has had a big gust of wind in its sails, so to speak. Automotive giant Group Renault is partnering with Neoline to build two of the ships by 2020 and test them on a route from Saint Nazare in France to the eastern seaboard of the United States and the French islands of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon, just off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada.

Why is a car company interested? The car-maker’s objective is to reduce the environmental impact of each vehicle throughout its entire lifecycle, from parts transportation up to delivery and end-of-life processing.

The Group’s aim is to reduce its total carbon footprint by 25% between 2010-2022, with a 6% target for its supply chain versus 2016.

Renault Vice-President of Strategic Environmental Planning Jean-Philippe Hermine said “In our strategy to explore new sustainable mobility solutions and to reduce our carbon footprint, the ship designed by Neoline, which combines energy efficiency and operational relevance, has truly captured our attention.”

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