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MOL Orders Second Bulker Fitted with Rigid Wind Sail

bulker with auxiliary wind propulsion
MOL is considering adding rotors to its second bulker outfitted with its rigid wind sail (MOL)

Published Aug 14, 2022 7:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Oshima Shipbuilding Co. signed a contract for the construction of a second bulk carrier to be equipped with the companies’ hard sail wind propulsion device. The companies are moving forward expanding the deployment of wind-assisted propulsion even before the first bulker fitted with the Wind Challenger enters service. In addition, they plan to explore combining the sail with other technologies to further improve the vessel’s ability to reduce fuel use and emissions.

The new vessel, which will be approximately 69,000 dwt, will be built for MOL. The Japanese shipping company will operate the vessel for Enviva, a leading producer of sustainable wood bioenergy. Due to enter service in 2024, the new ship will transport wood pellets.

“For years, Enviva and MOL have engaged in discussions to improve the efficiency of marine transportation through a contract for the shipping of wood pellets in Atlantic waters,” the companies said announcing their plans to proceed with the construction of the ship. “In recent years, there has been a need to reduce the environmental impact of the entire supply chain. We entered into a partnership in March 2021 with the aim of realizing an environmentally friendly bulk carrier.”

The companies conducted studies considering the introduction of energy-saving technology before deciding to proceed with this vessel. MOL has previously reported that the additional propulsion power from the Wind Challenger can reduce a vessel's greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated five to eight percent compared to conventional ships of the same class. The Wind Challenger is a telescoping rigid sail that can extend to a maximum height of 170 feet when fully raised at sea. In port, the sail can be lowered to permit the vessel to pass under overhead obstacles or while loading and unloading

In addition to the use of the Wind Challenger, which MOL has been developing with Oshima, they are also examining the feasibility of also employing rotor sails, another auxiliary wind propulsion system developed by Anemoi Marine Technologies. MOL estimates that the combined use of both the Wind Challenger and rotor sails can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 20 percent.

While rotor sails have been previously deployed on several vessels, the first demonstration of MOL’s rigid sail is due to begin later this year. Oshima recently completed the installation of the first system and floated out the first bulker with the Wind Challenger. The bulk carrier is due for delivery in October 2022 and MOL will operate the ship transporting coal for Tohoku Electric Power Co.

Development of the Wind Challenger started in 2009 as a joint academic research project led by The University of Tokyo. MOL and Oshima Shipbuilding took charge of the technology in 2018 and now play a central role in this project. In October 2019, they acquired Approval in Principle (AIP) for the design of a hard sail system leading to the order in 2020 to build the first bulker outfitted with the technology.