Sail-powered cargo ships

Amador Palacios
2 min readMar 10, 2023

Cargo and transport ships have the problem that they consume a fuel that pollutes the environment a lot, and the world fleet represents just over 3% of carbon emissions. And getting that down to zero by 2050 is very difficult to achieve.

Aware of the problem, various options are appearing to reduce and/or eliminate its contamination. From cargo ships with engines running on ammonia, to others with hydrogen, the smallest electric ones and some helped by sails.

It is curious how something that was abandoned more than 100 years ago appears again, due to the pressures of the environment to eliminate contamination. But the sails in the boats of today have nothing to do with those of before.

Technologies have come a long way and today’s options are very different than before. Now the materials are lighter and more resistant, the sails are rigid and can be controlled by computer, and they do not require human effort to manipulate them.

Meteorology has come a long way and you can know in advance the weather and the winds that are going to blow on a given route, so you can select the most suitable one to reach your destination.

In the following video you can see the Canopée ship that will transport Airbus aircraft parts in the future https://youtu.be/MPV9wnD1ekk

There are different projects for cargo ships with hybrid propulsion and that can be helped by sails to reduce their carbon footprint. I think it is as good an alternative as any, because what maritime operators cannot do is stand aside and continue polluting as if nothing were happening here. Because what is happening is very serious.

At sea there are quite constant winds and especially on some routes, and it is foolish not to take advantage of them. I also know that it is easier to say things than to do them, but as I said before we have no other option than to do things “in another way” so as not to destroy our planet.

Attached are some videos of different projects of cargo ships with the help of sails. It is true that they are only projects, but sooner rather than later this will be a reality, or at least I hope so.

Video: https://youtu.be/N_oHkQaLinU

Video: https://youtu.be/SgqZCSXxuq0ç

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Amador Palacios

I am an electronic engineer with more than 40 years working in industry. I like to reflect on Technological and Social issues