Smart Green Shipping secures £5m to develop FastRig wing sail technology

Low carbon shipping technology start up Smart Green Shipping (SGS) has received a £5m funding boost to support the development and testing of its FastRig wing sail technology – a fully automated sailing technology that promises to slash emissions merchant ships.

The company formally launched the three-year project late last week, confirming that it has secured £3.2m in funding from the private sector, as well as a further £1.8m grant from Scottish Enterprise.

SGS will now work alongside industry partners, including Malin, Drax, Peel Ports and Lloyd’s Register, to develop and test its sail-based technology. Together the consortium plans to deliver a demonstrator system on a commercial ship by 2023.

“Shipping has a long history of harnessing the power of wind, but digital technologies are allowing us to work towards making zero emission vessels a reality,” said SGS founder, Diane Gilpin. “Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig wing sail technology offers a financially and technically robust solution to help support shipping’s green transition.”

SGS said its FastRig automated sail technology is compatible with up to 40,000 ships which are currently operating in the merchant fleet – primarily bulker and tanker ships.

According to modeling tests undertaken by SGS in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit, the technology could deliver fuel and greenhouse gas emissions savings of at least 20 per cent on retrofitted vessels, rising to 50 per cent fuel and carbon savings on small and medium -sized new build ships.

SGS said it will initially test its FastRig wing sails at a land-based site at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Center in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin. In addition, the project will see it also further develop its weather routing TradeWind software, which creates route plans for vessels that can optimize the amount of wind they can harness, leading to increased fuel and carbon savings.

Significantly, Lloyd’s Register has granted 1st stage Approval in Principle for the FastRig technology. “LR is dedicated to supporting the development and safe adoption of green technologies that will contribute to decarbonising the maritime sector and the FastRig wing sail technology will help shipowners with the transition ahead,” said Tom Wolodarsky, technical authority for Wind Propulsion Systems, Lloyd’s Register .

“We have now successfully completed the 1st stage of Approval in Principle of the technology which can assist in providing assurance to industry and demonstrate WAPS technology is a safe, viable option which follows well established, independent standards.”

In addition, SGS said the three-year project will look to address barriers to broader industry uptake of the technology, by exploring the potential for a number of technical, digital, and financing solutions that would make it easier for shipping operators to deploy the system .

The company said it is also developing insurance products that aims to give confidence of predictable financial returns to commercial operators.

The TradeWind tool has been optimised by SGS to gather data that will allow vessels to maximise the use of wind for a journey and optimize a vessel’s routing to minimise fuel consumption and arrive at a port at a designated time, ensuring compatibility with Just In Time arrival operations.

Data from Tradewind can then be used to underpin charter agreements, as well as secure private funding to lease the technology.

The FastRigs technology has been with a year-long InnovateUK and developed Institute of Mechanical Engineers-backed feasibility study which was conducted in 2018, as well as in-depth consultations with the wider shipping industry.

SGS developed its digital tools to predict and optimize wind-use in shipping in collaboration with the European Space Agency business incubation center in 2019.

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