Wind-powered Dutch ship sets sail for greener future

The world's first chemical tanker ship fitted with massive rigid aluminium "sails" has left Rotterdam, its owner hoping to plot a route to bringing down the shipping industry's huge carbon footprint.

The MT Chemical Challenger, a 16,000-ton chemicals transporter set sail from Antwerp for Istanbul on Feb. 16, and will undergo sea trials along the way.

Built in Japan and kitted out with four giant 16-metre-high sails similar to aircraft wings, the tanker's owners hope to cut fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent as the sails will allow the ship's captain to throttle back on the engine.

"As an avid sailor myself, I have been thinking for a long time how we can make our industry more sustainable," said Niels Grotz, chief executive of Chemship, which operates a fleet of chemical tanker vessels mainly between U.S. ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Mediterranean.

Global shipping - which burns diesel and other bunker fuels - contributed around 2 percent of the world's carbon emissions in 2022, the International Energy Agency said.

New guidelines by the International Maritime Organisation said shipping emissions needed to be cut by at least 40 percent by 2030 and down to zero by around 2050 if the Paris Climate Accords are to be achieved.

"Shipping has always been extremely competitive and it will be a struggle to reach these targets," admitted Grotz, who added the company was unlikely to "make money" on its latest project.

"But we have to bring down CO2 emissions - and we decided we're not just going to sit and wait for something magical to happen."

"With the sails on this ship we're expecting a yearly reduction of some 850 tons. That's the same output as around 500 cars annually," Chemship added in a...

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