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French car manufacturer Renault will return to the age of sail to send finished vehicles across the Atlantic, inking a deal with a wind propulsion firm.
Renault has signed a three-year deal with French developer Neoline to construct two wind-powered ro-ro vessels to operate on a transatlantic route from 2020.
The 136-metre long Neoliner has a beam of 24.2 metres and a standard sailing speed of 11 knots. It has some 4,200sq metres of sail and features “an innovative blend of technical solutions borrowed from the maritime transport industry, as well as from competitive sailing”.
The ship design features a loading ramp at the rear to 1,700 linear metres of cargo space – equating to 478 vehicles.
Neoline said its primary use of wind power would result in the equivalent of a reduction of CO2 emissions by some 90%.
Jean-François Salles, Renault alliance global director for production control, said: “The partnership with Neoline is the latest example of our supply chain’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 6% between 2016 and 2022.”
Jean Zanuttini, CEO of Neoline, added: “Considering that traditional sea freight accounts for nearly 3% of CO2 emissions in Europe, Neoline aims to build an innovative French solution to address a global environmental challenge while remaining within an industrial and competitive framework, with the support from its partners.”
Gavin Allwright, secretary general of the International Windship Association (IWSA), added: “We are delighted to see this news and congratulate Groupe Renault on taking this decisive step towards a fully decarbonised supply chain with these well-designed primary wind propulsion vessels.
“This development is great news for the Neoline team, but also for wind propulsion innovators as a whole, with cargo owners and ship operators increasingly considering wind propulsion as a viable, cost-effective low-carbon option for their fleets. We can’t wait to see these vessels launched and operational in the not too distant future.”
The vessels are set to operate a triangulated route between Nantes, the US east coast and the French-controlled island of St Pierre, off Canada’s east coast.
Mr Salles said the development was part of a series of environmental initiatives.
“For nearly 10 years, we have been working to identify the most environmentally sustainable solutions – for example, optimising the fill rates of the containers and trucks, producing eco-friendly packaging and implementing a multimodal system.
“We are also developing more initiatives, such as the use of natural gas transportation between parts suppliers and production sites, the evaluation of transporters’ environmental performance, the modernisation of truck fleets and of course the optimisation of our flows to reduce the number of kilometres travelled and to eliminate empty trips.”