The European Union is providing €9 million ($9.7 million) in funding to support the building of the first wind-powered Ro-Ro car carrier. According to the partners working on the project led by Wallenius Wilhelmsen, they are continuing to make progress and with the support of the EU’s Horizon Europe funding they are planning tests during mid-2024 toward the goal of commencing sailing by late 2026 or early 2027.
Known as Orcelle Wind, the concept was first profiled in 2020, for a wind-powered pure car truck carrier using the current design of roll-on roll-off transports. They envision a 722-foot vessel with a capacity for over 7,000 cars as well as breakbulk and rolling equipment that would be primarily wind-powered. Wallenius Wilhelmsen projects the vessel could reduce emissions by up to 90 percent if all emissions-influencing factors are aligned.
The project consists of 11 partners each working on different aspects of the ship’s design and operations. The concept that they expect to apply more broadly in the shipping industry is known as Oceanbird of which the Orcelle Wind is the first vessel. The partners are working on different aspects of the concept ranging from vessel design to weather routing and supply chain orchestration.
“The Horizon Europe EU funding shows the concept stood up to the scrutiny of the EU funding authorities and that they had the confidence to give it their support,” says Roger Strevens, VP of Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen.
In mid-2024, they plan to test the sail rig on an existing car carrier (Wallenius Wilhelmsen)
The grant will be divided between the partners as they work to refine the concepts and move toward the first tests. The EU project said Wallenius Wilhelmsen is a solid opportunity to combine the investments needed for full-scale demonstration and data capture with advanced models and tools for wing propulsion vessels. Beyond the demonstrator’s vessel, the partners will use the models and tools to develop advanced conceptual designs and operational plans for multiple vessel types to apply the wing solution.
Over the next five years, all aspects of planning, building, and operating a wind-powered vessel, the Orcelle Wind, will be done. Currently, they are working toward installing a wing sail test rig on an existing Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel. They will be applying the EU funding toward this test including a focus on crew training for the test rig installation on the existing vessel. The goal is to conduct the demonstration during mid-2024.
Orcelle Wind is a crucial part of Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s fleet decarbonization strategy. The companies also believe it will assist in a huge step towards truly sustainable shipping. It is one of several projects happening in different sectors of shipping looking to create a new generation of wind-powered vessels for cargo and passengers.