Wind Auxiliary Propulsion technology secures Innovate UK funding

Wind Auxiliary Propulsion is designed to complement existing ship propulsion systems; primarily marine diesel engines that power all types of vessels across the global fleet.

Wind Auxiliary Propulsion technology secures Innovate UK funding
Image: WingTek

Awarded under the UK Department for Transport Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, the £2.2m funding is to further develop Bristol-based WingTek’s Wingsail, a Wind Auxiliary Propulsion system designed to be retrofitted to existing commercial vessels.

In a statement, Neil Richards, WingTek managing director, said:

“WingTek’s innovative Wind Auxiliary Propulsion system has received a significant boost thanks to the help and support of Innovate UK leading to this grant. We are delighted to be working with a fantastic set of project partners at the University of Bristol and the National Composites Centre and we are now well supported to fast-track the development on the route to commercial production.”

The project will deliver two full-size operational prototypes, one on-shore for long-term testing and development and a second unit installed on a commercial UK vessel for sea-trials, with the project scheduled to complete by March 2025.

“Think of this as a renewable energy fuel saver for commercial ships,” said Richards. “Wind is free and available across the planet and can be harnessed by the world’s existing shipping fleets to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels.”

According to WingTek, there are around 55,000 commercial ships in excess of 5,000 tonnes worldwide that use an estimated 250 million tonnes of fossil fuels annually.

Richards said:

“Any reduction in this colossal fuel consumption has immediate benefits. The commercial and environmental value of adding WingTek Wingsails is evident – on routes such as the North Atlantic and the North Sea, the savings can be substantial and rise significantly when used in conjunction with weather routing.”

“We can save ship operators fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions, whether the ship has a traditional engine burning fossil fuels or one burning newer, but more expensive, clean alternatives. Our wind propulsion systems can be retrofitted to existing vessels, designed into new-builds, and easily removed when decommissioned or re-installed on another vessel in the fleet,” Richards added.

Innovate UK awarded funding for the ‘Wings for Ships’ project as part of the UK Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3). This is funding the development of wind-assisted ship propulsion aimed at helping the shipping industry reach Net Zero by 2050.

Source: The Engineer