The first partially sail-powered freighter has successfully completed its maiden voyage

The Shofu Maru, the first sail-equipped freighter, has successfully completed its maiden voyage. The vessel, owned by the Japanese company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), arrived in the port of Newcastle this week.

The system used by the Shofu Maru is called the Wind Challenger. A second ship using the technology, developed by MOL, will be built at the same shipyard, Oshima Shipbuilding. That vessel is expected to enter service in 2024 and will carry wood pellets.

Unfortunately, the 235-metre-long freighter Shofu Maru will carry coal (a highly polluting fuel), mostly on the Japan-Australia route.

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The telescopic system of solid sails, made of fiberglass, can reduce the ship’s fossil fuel consumption by up to 8% on average per voyage. Fully extended, the sail is 55 metres high and can rotate 360 degrees to adapt to wind conditions.

MOL also wants to install Flettner Rotors (rotor sails), developed by British company Anemoi Marine Technologies, on its ships.

Rotor sails (Photo: Anemoi)

These are huge vertical tubes that can propel the boat using all wind power. If equipped with this system, the Shofu Maru’s carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by up to 20% on average.

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Commercial seagoing ships are responsible for about 3% of annual CO2 emissions.

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