In a post on Ships and the Global Economy, I mentioned a sail-assist technology which has been develope by a German company. Operating something like a kite, the SkySails system is said to be capable of lowering vessel fuel costs by 10-35%.
Comes now Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile which has entered the cargo transportation business with a pure-sail approach. The 106-year-old Kathleen & May will be running wine from Bordeaux to Dublin. CMTV has chartered several additional sailing ships and will be using them to ship products such as coffee and jam. The company also intends to have new vessels built to its specifications.
Here’s CMTV’s website. Note that shippers get a “logo sticker” that they can attach to their products, certifying that “goods are transferred to consumers in a clean and socially responsible way that contributes to sustainable development, without neglecting the requirement to exchange necessary goods between people.”
I doubt if pure sail will ever recapture a significant portion of the world ocean transportation industry, but it may well thrive in some niche markets, serving people who want to buy products which are defined as “green” or “sustainable” and who may also enjoy the association with the romance of sail.
Sail-assist technologies for powered vessels, on the other hand, may have a significant role to play, particularly if oil prices continue to climb and if environmental restrictions mandate the replacement of bunker fuel with the more-expensive distillates.
Here’s a report on the test on the SkySails system on the multipurpose cargo ship Michael A. Note the interesting comparison of the tractive force from the sail with the thrust from an Airbus A318 turbine engine.
CMTV item via Checks with Chart.