MOL and Berge Bulk Roll Out More Wind-Assisted Propulsion on Bulkers

wind assisted propulsion
MOL took delivery of its second bulker equipped with Wind Challenger sail (MOL)

Published Jul 10, 2024 6:38 PM by The Maritime Executive


The shipping industry is continuing to take its early steps toward the integration of wind-assisted propulsion into long-distance ocean shipping. Two leaders in bulk shipping, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and Berge Bulk both have deployed wind technology on additional vessels as the industry continues to explore the long-term benefits of the technology.

MOL deployed its Wind Challenger, a hard sail propulsion system, for the first time in 2022 aboard a newbuild, the 100,000 dwt Shofu Maru. Earlier this year, MOL reported validation results saying the first vessel reduced daily fuel consumption by up to 17 percent. On average after seven round-trip voyages to Japan mainly from Australia, Indonesia, and North America operating as a dedicated coal carrier for Tohoku Electric the fuel saving was between five and eight percent per voyage.

Wind Challenger is a telescoping three-section hard sail made of fiber-reinforced plastic. The technology was developed and is now being commercialized by a partnership between MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding Group.

The second vessel outfitted with the technology, the Green Winds (63,896 dwt) was delivered today, July 10, by Oshima Shipbuilding. The vessel is 656 feet (199.95 meters) long with one sail fitted near the bow. The Wind Challenger will stand up to 130 feet (39.5 meters) when all three tiers are raised and is about 37 feet (11.4 meters) wide. 

MOL had initially said it would also explore adding wind rotors to this vessel when it announced the construction order in 2022. The Japanese shipping company said it would operate the vessel for Enviva, a leading producer of sustainable wood bioenergy to transport wood pellets. It is the second of nine vessels MOL currently plants to outfit the Wind Challenger technology, including plans to put the sail on the first multi-purpose crane vessel.


Berge Neblina departing China with the retrofitted rotors (Berge Bulk)


Berge Bulk also completed the retrofit of four wind rotors built by Anemoi Marine Technology to one of its Valemax ore carriers. The UK-registered vessel Berge Neblina (388,000 dwt) was built in 2013 and during its recent scheduled dry docking at Yulian Shekou shipyard in China, the rotors were installed. Each rotor stands approximately 115 feet (35 meters) and each has a diameter of 16.4 feet (5 meters). They included a folding deployment system so that rotors can be folded down to reduce air draft and not interfere with cargo handling.

The rotors produce propulsive force by turning and capturing wind energy. They reduce the load on the main engine while maintaining speed. Berge Bulk reports the vessel is now sailing to Brazil. They expect to save more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel annually using the rotors.

Last year, Berge Bulk introduced its Newcastle bulker Berge Olympus outfitted with four BARTech WindWings. The rigid sail stands 123 feet (37.5 meters) and can be adjusted to optimize the aerodynamic performance of the ship. The total surface area of the four wings is 3,000 square meters and the company reports it expects to save up to 20 percent of its fuel consumption, or six tonnes of fuel per day, producing a 19.5 tonne per day reduction in CO2 emissions.

These are the latest examples of wind-assisted propulsion as the field is projected to continue to grow.