Low Carbon Shipping & Shipping in Changing Climates

A Research Led Consortium on Sustainable Shipping


ShIFT portal

The Shipping Innovation Fast Tracker (ShIFT) is a joint collaboration between University College London (UCL) Energy Istitute and the Carbon War Room that supports technology firms through to implementation with the objective of accelerating mass uptake of measures that deliver significant energy and emission reductions for the shipping industry. 


Research findings

ShIFT is working to provide greater insight on the opportunities and risks related to wind technologies, including in-depth analysis from UCL Energy Institute on technical feasibility as well as challenges and opportunities in the market. Below are some of the findings that we feel are benefical to various technology providers seeking to penetrate the sector.

Barriers to implementation of wind technologies

To date there has been minimal uptake of wind technology, despite a number of commercially available solutions that have been developed to harness this free and abundant energy source. Several barriers have been referred to in the literature that inhibit uptake of energy efficiency measures in shipping. Using the findings from the ShIFT programme, a paper has been submitted to Marine Policy that provides a systematic analysis of the barriers to their implementation, both from the perspective of the technology providers and technology users (ship owner-operators), using the survey and the deliberative workshop method. A brief overview of the barriers described in the paper was presented at the Green Shipping Technology Conference 2015. Click here for the poster presented at the GST 2015.

Characterising the shipping market 

For an owner or charterer to invest in a technology, they need to have the confidence they will be paying a certain amount of fuel for long-enough period of time to be able to recoup the fuel savings of the technology. The different sizes of the charter market in different sectors as well as the heterogeneity in the market can present a challenge for technology firms. Firms need to carefully consider the sector, size of the firm and their exposure to different types of charter. An initial report is presented here, with further details being addressed in an upcoming journal paper. 

Premium rates for energy efficient ships

A key point that influences owners decision to implement energy efficiency technology depends on whether owners who invest in more energy efficient ships are being rewarded in terms of higher rates. The extent to which the fuel cost savings are passed back to the owner-operator through higher charter rates will create direct incentives for shipowners and operators to implement wind technology. Paper written by Agnolucci, Smith & Rehmatulla (2014) show that on average 40% of the financial savings delivered by energy efficiency accrue to the shipowner for the period 2008–2012 in the drybulk panamax sector. Another report by Smith et al. (2013) shows that energy efficiency is generally factored in across the four shipping markets, the charter market, sale and purchase market and newbuildings and demolition.

Sectoral operational profiles and future demand

Understanding fleet wide characteristics especially those related to the operations of ships is important for estimating fuel savings for wind technologies as well as enabling technology providers to focus on specific sectors given the operational characteristics and future growth. The Third IMO GHG 2014 study led by UCL Energy Institute provides aggregate level information on this e.g. fleet speed, number of ships active, future demand scenarios for different ship types etc.


The participants

After a shortlisting process using a questionnaire, six firms were selected based on their overall score derived from the responses in the questionnaire. The technologies provided by the selected firms were mainly wind technologies and included variations of the Flettner rotor and sails.

Company: Turbosail Pte Ltd. 
Technology: Turbosail
Suggested savings: 10% - 35%

The Turbosail produces a very high drive force and consists of an elongated hollow body, a mobile flap to improve fluid separation, and an aspiration system to generate a vacuum and increase the system efficiency.

Company: Eco Marine Power
Technology: Aquarius MRE
Suggested savings: 8% - 10%

The Aquarius MRE System is an integrated system of rigid sails, solar panels, energy storage modules and computer systems that tap into renewable energy by harnessing the power provided by the wind and sun.

Company: Magnuss
Technology: VOSS
Suggested savings: 10% - 35%

The Magnuss VOSS™ (Vertically-variable Ocean Sail System System) is a 100-foot tall, spinning, hollow, retractable steel cylinder installed on a ship’s deck that creates forward thrust.

Company: Norsepower
Technology: Rotor sail
Suggested savings: 10% - 20%

The Norsepower Rotor Sail solution technology is based on the concept of the Flettner rotor, which has been completely re-engineered using best known materials and control systems.

Company: OCIUS Tech. 
Technology: Opening rigid sail
Suggested savings: 25% - 40%

Rugged patented opening sails allow alterations in camber and surface area, folding down for seaworthiness. These are larger (30m) versions of 12m Solarsails already operating on commercial vessels.

Company: Oceanfoil
Technology: Wingsails
Suggested savings: 10% - 20%

A wingsail consists of three or four aerodynamically efficient vertical planes or wings, similar to an aircraft wing, mounted together with a tail-fin that create forward thrust.