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The future of the energy powering the shipping industry

We were interested to read in the BBC recently that a cargo ship powered by wind has set out on its’ maiden six-week journey from China to Brazil.

The Pyxis Ocean was chartered by Swiss headquartered commodity giant Cargill, and is fitted with British-designed rigid sails, known as WindWings, which hopefully will pave the way for a greener future in the industry.

The sails are designed to cut fuel consumption and as a result the carbon footprint of this vessel and the shipping industry as a whole. Enabling a vessel to be blown along by the wind, rather than relying solely on its engine, could even reduce a cargo ship’s lifetime emissions by 30%.

In the BBC article, Jan Dieleman, president of Cargill Ocean Transportation, said the industry was on a “journey to decarbonise”. He admitted there was “no silver bullet” – but said this technology demonstrated how fast things were changing. “Five, six years ago, if you would ask people in shipping about decarbonising, they would say ‘well, it’s going to be very difficult, I don’t see this happening any time soon’,”.

“Five years later, I think the narrative has changed completely and everybody is really convinced that they need to do their part – everybody is just struggling a little on how we’re going to do this. That’s why we’ve taken the role as one of the larger players to underwrite some of the risk, and try things, and take the industry forward.”

The technology in the sails was developed by UK firm BAR Technologies. Their CEO John Cooper told the BBC “This is one of the most slow-moving projects we’ve done, but without doubt with the biggest impact for the planet.” He also predicted that by 2025 half the new-build ships will be ordered with wind propulsion.

The BBC also asked Steve Gordon, Managing Director of Clarkson Research and a regular speaker at Spinnaker’s Maritime HR Conference for his thoughts on the future of wind power.

“We have the number of ships using this technology doubling over the past 12 months,” he explained. “This is from a low base, however. In the international shipping fleet and new-build order book of over 110,000 vessels, we have records for under 100 having wind-assisted technology today.”

As maritime recruitment specialists, we are certainly seeing an increase in vacancies with an environmental slant, and responsibilities over and above those found within a HSEQ position. Director of Recruitment, Matt Cornelius is currently searching for a Sustainability Manager for a dry bulk owner’s Singapore office. The person they are looking for will need to be able to provide support on commercial sustainability and ESG projects. Matt has worked for Spinnaker for 13 years and tells us that the demand for people with ESG experience has grown exponentially over this time and is certainly more noticeable in the last 5 years. He commented that companies with a clear ESG message are more likely to attract new candidates, as job seekers are keen to find organisations that have brand values that align with their own ideals.

Find out more about the vacancies that Matt and the team are currently working on via our website.

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