The Swedes will build a wind-powered transatlantic freighter (yes, it’s a sailboat)


The wind is strong. It is proving to be one of the most useful forms of renewable energy of our generation and helps countries reduce their dependence on coal and fossil fuels to generate electricity.

When it comes to wind, in most cases we have to use massive turbines to convert moving air into kinetic energy which can then be converted into electrical energy with the help of inverters and generators. This energy then goes straight to the grid to recharge our electric cars and boats, or we can store it in batteries for later use.

It’s quite heavy, it takes a lot of time and energy to build wind farms and infrastructure, and then comes with maintenance overhead. Imagine if we could harness the power of the wind directly.

[Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked]

Think about it, why spend all this time and money when we can just blow our cars or our boats on the wind?

You could put in huge pieces of gear, like stationary kites, to catch the wind and drag yourself forward. In fact, that’s what a group of Swedish engineers did with their latest car transport ship.

A Swedish consortium including the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, SSPA maritime consultancy, and led by ship designers, Wallenius Marine developed the Wind Powered Car Carrier, or wPCC for short.

Credit: wPCC – Wallenius Marine
The wPCC uses four sails or wings mounted on its roof to catch the wind and propel it forward. It’s not as fast as fossil fuel freighters, but it’s definitely more environmentally friendly.

It is a transatlantic vessel capable of carrying up to 7,000 vehicles and reducing emissions for the crossing by 90%. And it is powered directly by the wind. Look at those big fins on it, I’ll call them sails.

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The consortium estimates that the wPCC should be ready for its first sailing trip by 2024. Hopefully it will still be windy by then.

The only downside to using wind power is that it will take about twice as long to cross the Atlantic. Typically, cargo trips take seven days, wPCC would take around 12.

For safety reasons and to get in and out of the port, the boat has additional motors. It seems the boat’s designers haven’t fully defined this aspect yet, but it should hopefully use electric motors to maintain its enduring ethos.

The designers say it is 200 meters long, 40 meters wide and 100 meters high, including sails. It’s a bit shorter than the average container ship, but much taller. The sails themselves are around 80 meters high.

If you want to follow the evolution of wPCC, you can stay informed on the Wallenius Marine blog.

As the consumer world moves towards cleaner modes of transportation, the commercial world lags behind, especially shipping. So it’s great to see such innovation to create the sustainable transport of the future.

Honestly, I can’t believe we didn’t think about it sooner. Oh wait …

HT – the conduit

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