Scottish-made wingsail set for sea tests after launch on land

17 April 2024, 15:44

FastRig wingsail launch
FastRig wingsail launch. Picture: PA

A company hopes wingsails will ultimately transform the way many commercial ships are powered.

A 20-metre wingsail made in Scotland is set to take to the seas for tests later this year after being officially “launched” on land by First Minister Humza Yousaf.

The company behind the Fastrig wingsail, Smart Green Shipping, hopes it will ultimately transform the way many commercial ships are powered and reduce fuel emissions.

On Wednesday, Mr Yousaf joined the company’s founder Diane Gilpin at Hunterston Parc in North Ayrshire.

He started the mechanical process which saw the device slowly raise itself to an upright position and unfold its flaps – a process which took more than four minutes.

FastRig wingsail launch
Fastrigs can be retrofitted to ship decks (Lesley Martin/PA)

The Fastrig wingsail is intended to be retrofitted on the decks of tankers and bulk carriers, and can be raised or lowered as needed.

The company says Fastrigs can save up to 30% of a ship’s fuel and emissions each year as they generate extra thrust.

Unlike traditional sails, wingsails are rigid and resemble an aircraft’s wing, using the flow of air over its surfaces to provide propulsion.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Ms Gilpin said the first Fastrig would be attached to a vessel from Nuclear Transport Solutions later this year for sea trials.

Later, other commercial ships will be fitted with a number of wingsails on their decks along with software to allow them to operate autonomously, Ms Gilpin said.

Under the right wind and sea conditions, the company says wingsails can propel a ship by themselves.

FastRig wingsail launch
The wingsail is designed to save fuel consumption on ships (Lesley Martin/PA)

Ms Gilpin said: “We’ve been delighted to have the First Minister on site. This is the culmination of the very first part of our programme to build wingsails for global shipping.

“The wings are autonomous, you don’t have to train the crew specially – there’s a whole bunch of technical and commercial aspects that we’re developing to make it really customer-friendly.”

She added: “(Wingsails) are ideal at this stage in their development for dry bulkers and tankers.

“I think in maybe 10 or 15 years you won’t see a dry bulker or tanker without wind on it.”

The First Minister said: “Smart Green Shipping’s work on their impressive Fastrig technology is typical of the type of economic opportunity the just transition to net zero affords Scotland – as the ideal test bed for new, green technology.

“Investment and new technology like this will enable companies based here to seize those opportunities and help innovative businesses like Smart Green Shipping grow and thrive, both at home and across the world.

“By helping companies like Smart Green Shipping invest in innovation, we can drive growth, create jobs and increase productivity while driving the transition to net zero in the shipping sector.”

By Press Association

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