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The Wind Assisted Ship Propulsion (WASP) project, an initiative that seeks to bring universities, ship owners, and wind-assist technology providers together, has been launched. The project aims to research, test, and validate the working performance of a number of wind propulsion solutions. This is expected to boost market penetration for wind propulsion technology, leading to a North Sea transportation system that is more environmentally friendly. The technology will also enable vessels leverage the huge wind potential in the region.
WASP’s funding will come from the Interreg North Sea Europe program, and it falls under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). To this end, 3.4 million euros has been earmarked for the project.

The wind propulsion project is in line with similar other programs to promote the development (and adoption) of processes, products, and services that make the North Sea region greener.
Netherlands Maritime Technology Foundation is the lead beneficiary of the project, and here is what the organization’s representative, Danitsja van Heusden-van Winden, has to say about WASP. “We’re…looking forward to being able to test the wind propulsion systems on different vessels, routes, and sea conditions throughout the project duration thanks to Interreg’s support and the efforts of all the project’s partners.”

WASP has a partnership agreement with five shipping companies including Scandlines Gedser-Rostock, Van Dam Shipping, Boeckmans Ship Management, and 2 other partners that will be named in the coming weeks.

Experts in shipping logistics and wind propulsion will oversee and evaluate the operations, as well as create applications to resolve potential business and regulatory issues. In the past, these issues are often the biggest barriers to the adoption of new technological solutions.

Nord University’s statement provides more insight about WASP and what the initiative aims to achieve. “The transition to decarbonized shipping is the greatest maritime challenge of our time and demand for low carbon solutions is growing,” the statement said. The University went on to highlight how direct wind propulsion and similar secondary renewable sources (e.g. wind-sourced ammonia, hydrogen, and other such fuels and batteries) are part of the solutions needed to ensure decarbonization.

The North Sea region has a large resource of wind energy, and with innovative wind propulsion technologies like suction wings, rotor sails, and rigid sails, vessels may be able to harvest these resources directly. Given the rising cost of fuel, widespread market instability, and new policies & regulations that mandate emission reduction, WASP comes at the perfect time. Wind solutions have never been this commercially and technologically attractive.

The propulsion systems that the WASP project aims to develop may be installed on existing vessels. It is expected to reduce fuel emission by as much as 5 to 20% (and up to 30% if the solutions retrofitted or built into new vessels).

According to Gavin Allwright, the Secretary-General of the International Windship Association, “Wind propulsion solutions are a very important technology segment for the decarbonization of shipping. The propulsive energy provided is substantial and this is delivered directly to the ship with no need for new infrastructure”.