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As the shipping industry starts to make it’s first tentative steps back towards ‘new normal’ operations, there are increasingly loud calls to ‘build back better’ and to make smart investments that bring efficiency and profit but also bring resilience and the management of future risk front and centre. One company that is helping lead the charge is Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd., or “K” LINE, operating 468 large vessels worldwide and this is signalled strongly by today’s announcement that they have joined the International Windship Association (IWSA), the member driven not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of direct wind propulsion in commercial shipping.

With “K” LINE joining IWSA, they are sending a clear message to the industry and policy makers that wind propulsion is a credible, viable and increasingly attractive solution, especially as fuel prices bounce back, with increasingly likely fossil fuel levies in the near future and more expensive alternative fuels that will start to become commercially available over the next decade.

Atsuo Asano, “K” LINE Representative Director & Senior Managing Executive Officer states; “Joining IWSA is a great opportunity for our company. Through IWSA activities, maritime stakeholders can create a big scrum, pushing together towards the uptake of direct wind power applications for commercial ships. We believe this association will bring a bright future for the shipping industry.”

This announcement comes on the back of “K” LINE’s commitment to deploy the Airseas kite propulsion systems, known as Seawing on their vessels, after a period of testing and analysis next year they have signed the option for a further 50 installations for their fleet.

Koji Tsumuraya of “K LINE’s Advanced Technology Group adds “It is a great pleasure to join IWSA and we have selected the Airseas kite system as the most promising wind propulsion for our vessels, in view of its enhanced traction power resulting from it flight control technology. With IWSA, we strongly step forward for environmentally friendly maritime transportation.”

These sentiments are naturally echoed by IWSA Secretary General, Gavin Allwright who summarizes what wind propulsion means for shipping in a rapidly decarbonizing world; “We are delighted to welcome “K” LINE to the association, adding a powerful voice to our calls for wind propulsion to be considered as a significant and immediate decarbonization tool for the world’s fleet. Wind-assist retrofits will deliver 5-20% of the propulsive energy required by large vessels on their current motor vessel operational profile, with the potential to reach 30%. This abundant energy is delivered at zero cost and emissions for the life of the vessel, directly to the point of use without the need for additional expensive infrastructure.”

A market projection released in an EU report in 2016 forecast that wind propulsion technology
installations could reach up to 10,700 in the container, bulker and tanker markets by 2030, these findings were recently echoed by the UK Clean Maritime Plan released in July 2019 that identified wind propulsion technologies as a £2 billion a year market by the 2050s. Wind propulsion solutions are now coming into a market where ship owners are looking at every means of reducing carbon emissions in anticipation of tightening rules at IMO, carbon pricing and higher carbon taxes. There are few, if any, technology solutions available today that can deliver this level of savings, so wind is really turning heads, and where “K” LINE is leading, others are sure to follow.

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