Maritime and fisheries industry increasingly needs to adapt to higher fuel costs and new regulations on harmful emissions reduction. This can put a heavy strain on the operational budget of the companies as it increases their costs of about 40% to 60%. Furthermore, the use of less polluting fuels has been encouraged, such as Marine Gasoil (MGO), instead of the conventional Heavy Fueloil (HFO), causing a huge impact in fuel-related OPEX. The market demand for solutions that contribute to reduce fuel use in this sector has increased, leading to a convenient return on investment (ROI).
Aspiring Wingsails project aims to increase energy efficiency and decrease fuel use and emissions from the shipping sector, which supports the EU goal to become climate neutral by 2050. Its contribution to the EU’s Sustainable Blue Economy strategy and the EU Green Deal will increase the competitiveness of the European maritime transport sector, resulting in direct and indirect job creation.
The main goal of the project was to develop, test and validate bound4blue’s novel Wind Assisted Propulsion System (WAPS) for fishing vessels. It is based on a boundary layer active control system using suction (eSAIL®), offering a better savings/cost ratio than existing alternative solutions (e.g. rotor sails). By offering a relevant fuel savings percentage while reducing CAPEX and weight when compared to other potential solutions, it makes the solution accessible to more vessels.
Test and validation were done by installing a full-scale unit on a representative fishing vessel, executing sea trials along the standard operation of the vessel, and measuring the achieved savings using an ad-hoc performance monitoring system. In June 2021, bound4blue, together with project partner Kyma (Norway) and Organización de Palangreros de A Guarda (ORPAGU- Spain), successfully installed the eSAIL® rigid sail system on the “Balueiro Segundo” vessel. Two fishing trips were carried out during the sea trial period of the project. Fishing Trip 1 was entirely used to calibrate the eSAIL® aerodynamic performances and the autonomous control system control logic and performances.
Bound4blue (Spain), as coordinator, was in charge of the aspiring wingsail technology and overall turn-key solution management. Kyma a.s (Norway) was in charge of the performance monitoring of the vessel pre- and post-wingsail installation. Following the sea trials bound4blue has been continuously working on the further improvement of the control system performances, and the aerodynamic design to further reduce fuel consumption.
With the new improved sail that is already designed, the initially obtained fuel savings will be more than doubled. Thus, the project has been positively influencing not only the competitiveness of the European fishing industry but also the European maritime transport industry given that the solution is also suitable for merchant and passenger vessels. In addition to its positive environmental impact of the maritime industry, the project resulted in an increased employment rate of 23% of the total bound4blue employees compared to when the company started the project.
The EMFF project, which supported the demonstration of the wingsail solution for fishing vessels, helped the coordinator (bound4blue) on its way to secure blended finance from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programme. The project also very positively impacted the attraction of investment and technology and business development. During the last months of the project and right after its completion, bound4blue signed two additional new contracts with high-level European ship owners from the Netherlands and France.