World’s First Wind-Powered Car Carrier Project Gets EU Funding

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Image courtesy Wallenius Wilhelmsen/Wallenius Marine

World’s First Wind-Powered Car Carrier Project Gets EU Funding

Mike Schuler

January 23, 2023

The world’s first wind-powered roll-on/roll-off vessel project has received EUR 9 million in EU funding, some of which will be used to install a test wing sail prototype on an existing vessel sometime next year.

The vessel, known as Orcelle Wind, is being developed by Oslo-based Wallenius Wilhelmsen and envisions the world’s wind-assisted pure car and truck carriers (PCTC). The funding is provided through Horizon Europe, a UN-backed funding program for research and innovation that runs through 2027.

Swedish shipping consultancy Wallenius Marine has teamed up with naval architecture firm KNUD E. HANSEN to design the 220-meter-long vessel.

The vessel will be designed to operate at speeds of 10-12 knots while under sail, or faster using a supplemental power system. The concept seeks to reduce emissions by as much as 90 percent.

The PCTC has a planned capacity of 7,000 cars along with breakbulk and rolling equipment.

Test wing sail. Image courtesy Wallenius Wilhelmsen

The Orcelle Wind is the first vessel in the “Oceanbird” concept, which Wallenius Wilhelmsen is developing as an alternative path to achieving zero emissions.

First announced in February 2021, Wallenius Wilhelmsen plans to have finished vessel ready for operations in late 2026 or early 2027.

“The Horizon Europe EU funding shows the concept stood up to the scrutiny of the EU funding authorities and that they had the confidence to give it their support,” says Roger Strevens, VP Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen. 

An important part of the Horizon Europe funding will be installing the wing sail test rig on an existing Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel during mid-2024, the details of which are expected to be revealed later this week.

“The Oceanbird concept was developed through a partnership approach. We have seen the strength of gathering people from different sectors and companies to cover all perspectives. By working together, we will bring the Orcelle Wind project to life – and by that – take a huge step towards truly sustainable shipping,” says Niclas Dahl, Managing Director at Oceanbird.

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