Wind-assisted cargo ship starts North Sea operations

Wind-assisted cargo ship starts North Sea operations
The maiden voyage of the Ankie using the two Ventifoils sailing on a trip for Wagenborg

A wind-assisted vessel retrofitted with the eConowind Ventifoil system in January 2020 has begun operations in the North Sea.

The 3,600 DWT general cargo vessel MV Ankie of Jan van Dam Shipping was fitted with modular Ventifoil units in the form of wings with vents and an internal fan that use boundary layer suction for maximum effect.  Two 10-metre wings have been installed on the MV Ankie to generate significant force allowing the vessel to reduce motor power and save energy. The vessel is making its maiden voyage, sailing for Wagenborg from Delfzijl to Hamburg, onwards to Norway and then back to Rotterdam.

The Royal Niestern Sander shipyard installed the system on the MV Ankie. It is the first retrofit of the eConowind Ventifoil wind-assist system and was installed six months after signing the contract. “The good and close cooperation between eConowind, Van Dam Shipping and Niestern Sander resulted in a pioneering project, which was completed within the planned installation period,” said Bart Volgers.

The wind propulsion units will be extended by a further six meters in due course.

For eConowind BV, located in Groningen, the Netherlands, it is the first commercial installation of the company’s Ventifoil system. The wind-assist system was developed over the past three years supported by an EU backed grant and this first voyage marks a significant milestone for the company in bringing their technology to a shipping market eager to deploy credible decarbonisation solutions.

A statement released by Royal Wagenborg, an international maritime logistics conglomerate, said: “We take active part in the shipping industry’s de-carbonising energy transition. Together with our stakeholders, such as our affiliated captain owners, clients, investors, employees and suppliers, we accept sustainability challenges to reduce our environmental footprint. We are happy Jan van Dam, who has been sailing for Wagenborg over 26 years now, picked up the glove resulting in this Ventifoil project.”

This first voyage is a big step for Jan van Dam, who has been hoping to combine modern shipping with wind propulsion for almost 40 years. “We expect to show in the WASP- research project this first step will be economically feasible. We are hoping to set the next steps as well in a new-to-build ship in the coming years, getting step-by-step into low and even zero emission shipping” Jan van Dam stated.

RINA carried out the design approval, foil production and construction supervision together with the commissioning protocol preparation. “This project fits perfectly with the strong focus RINA has on innovative technologies that contribute to an environmentally friendlier shipping industry” commented Pino Spadafora, EMEA marine commercial director at RINA.

The WASP (Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion) project is funded by the Interreg North Sea Europe program, part of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and brings together universities and wind-assist technology providers with ship owners to research, trial and validate the operational performance of a selection of wind propulsion solutions.

“We are confident that such an innovative company as van Dam Shipping will manage to get the most out of the system and we are really excited to share the results in the coming months.” stated Frank Nieuwenhuis, CEO of eConowind.

Both eConowind and van Dam Shipping are convinced the Ventifoils will give significant savings and thus be an important solution to help shipping reach the IMO decarbonisation goals for 2030 and 2050.