Sail Transport Industry Trends

 May 2015 - Jan Lundberg


I was immersed in shipping industry issues last month at back-to-back

meetings in Delft, Netherlands.  We had another SAIL consortium meeting

(EU grant for 3.5 million euros, limited to 7 North Sea nations) and the 

MARIN Blue Week convened on wind-assisted shipping.  After my 

participation and follow-up, here's my current impression on the state of 

affairs for expanding sail transport during the corporate global economy.


This seems to be a time of accelerated change in direction for transport

and trade, even more than a year ago.  Lower nominal oil prices have a

little-discussed effect, that of mild suppression of the sail-cargo business 

during (oddly) simultaneous acceptance of wind power for shipping in 

the corporate petroleum-economy.  The oil price is of course expected to 

go up, based on assumptions on demand.


Our movement’s planning and positioning continue regardless of the oil

price and the uncertainties of the inherently unstable global economy.  As

you can imagine, the conservatism of the players in industries open to

wind propulsion and cutting petroleum costs means that some parties put 

off new investments during lower (nominal) oil prices, even though the 

value chain and natural forces require decisions to keep up with the pace 

of change.


As sail transport players continue to do their homework and reach out to

the conventional shipping industry, investors are warming to becoming

early adopters.  I’m more familiar with north Europe than elsewhere, but

the same principles apply.  There may be widespread surprise and

enthusiasm when the first modern, large sail cargo ship goes into



STN and SAIL MED take an interest in this arena to assist worthy parties

working towards at least 60% petroleum fuel reduction.  Oddly, ship

designs ready to implement offer up to 90% petroleum fuel reduction, 

but any design or proposal guaranteeing over 35% savings is 

immediately suspect and dismissed by convention industry types!  So 

the big reduction potential must be withheld in initial presentations.


There are four main candidates for a ship design giving 60% and higher

fuel savings: The Ecoliner (by the SAIL consortium), B9 Shipping (similar

to the Ecoliner), Wind Challenger (Japan), and Neoline (Nantes,

emphasizing roll-on/roll-off freight).  I know these parties and can get

almost any information from them that I may not already have.  Costs for 

a turn-key ship, over 100 meters long, start at 23 million euros.


STN and SAIL MED are assisting these efforts in modest ways, while we

simultaneously promote traditional, smaller sailing cargo ships.


Let's hear it for strengthening local economies with clean,

renewable-energy transport between bioregions!

Charlene CaprioComment