Flettner Rotors

In this week episode, we interview Tuomas Riski, a passionate Finnish entrepreneur, a citizen of the world who decided to act to reduce the global carbon emissions.

In 2012, Tuomas founded Norsepower Oy Ltd, bringing to the market a 21st century version of the Flettner Rotor.

At a time the carbon intensity of a vessel becomes critical, Tuomas Riski presents the use case of the M/V Estraden, a Ro-Ro vessel equipped with 2 mechanics sails since 2014.

M/V Estraden sails the North Sea, on a typical route between the UK and the Netherlands. The 2 rotor sails, 18m high each, save 400,000 kg of fuel on an annual basis.

The Winds of San Francisco

We started this podcast to feature not only established firms using wind propulsion, but to give up-and-comers a chance to describe their journey.  In our conversation with Charlie Bogue, Director of Market Development & Strategy at Wind + Wing Technologies, we hear how a young company won a coveted bid to retrofit passenger ferries in the San Francisco Bay.  

While competing against larger companies with longer histories and bigger gas tanks, Wind & Wing Technologies edged out the field by suggesting a hybrid solution with an eye to efficient routes, passenger satisfaction and low environmental impact.  The  approach piqued the interest of local legislators and ferry operators who praised an affordable and low-carbon answer to moving commuters across the bay. 

Raised in the Bay Area and currently living in Europe, Charlie’s opinions on ship decarbonization, input from lawmakers, short sea shipping, market uptake in Europe and autonomous vessels are informed by his cross-borders experience.  

He also told us about his role as the sole Yankee on the Executive Committee of the International WindShip Association (IWSA), and how as membership continues to grow, so does the urgency to present a cohesive message across the board. 

 Charlie’s passion for wind power grew from his childhood sailing trips with family on the West Coast and a concurrent career as the Director of Charters & Marketing for Adventure Cat Sailing, which takes 40,000 tourists per year on catamaran cruises under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Who pays for Global Shipping?

This week we take a deep dive into the financing of maritime assets.

Our guest is Tony Foster, CEO of Marine Capital in London, a maritime asset manager that links institutional capital to the shipping market.

Through real-life examples of investment strategies, Tony describes the changing behavior of the pension & infrastructure funds who comprise his investors. He explains that nowadays they are primarily driven by concerns about sustainability.

“Those institutions increasingly make decisions based upon numerous environmental and other precepts which will have to be met for investments to be sanctioned.”

Tony also explains his recent choice to focus on offshore wind “LNG is increasingly challenging: the institutional investors thinks in a longer term perspective: while the debate rages about the future of LNG, naturally it becomes more difficult to place the investment”

We also touch upon the transition toward zero carbon shipping:  “For deep sea shipping, there are no carbon neutral solutions available as we speak. That solution will come over a generation. There are clear directions but the ultimate choices have not been made. So the transition is currently about Energy Saving Devices, which can be added to existing technologies over the next decade or so, ranging from wind assist, digital technologies, air bubbles, new propellers… There is a pretty serious piece of technical work required on a ship by ship basis to understand how a certain target might be reached. “

But for Tony, the energy savings is facing a fundamental obstacle:  “We have a split incentive problem in the shipping world: a tonnage provider, a typical ship owner that rents out his ship, doesn’t get rewarded for making energy savings improvements.  So the improvement that he makes would be reflected in a higher rate which would directly reflect the value of the savings of fuel, but it won’t reflect the investment that he has to make in the technology. Charterers are happy to take the benefits of the cost savings, but they are not happy to pay a return on the extra investment.”

Tony also walks us through the market based measures, recently announced or to be expected:  “At a global level, we are ultimately expecting a fuel tax. We think the solution to the gap between the cost of new technologies and the equity risk that goes into those technologies has to be bridged by a variety of means. Although there are administrative issues around the operation of that tax, the IMO is the obvious organ through which it could be administered. “

Last but not least, because ESG also includes Social and Governance, Tony calls for more transparency & collaboration in the industry.

“One of the key challenges for the attraction of new capital to the industry is its poor record on governance, what is missing is this virtuous circle of collaborative business dealings and transparency of operations.”

Fair Winds!

Every cause needs its evangelists and the International WindShip Association has been spreading the gospel of wind propulsion since 2014.  As the Secretary General of the Association, it’s up to Gavin Allwright to keep wind propulsion top of mind for commercial ship owners, policy makers and regulators.

The journey to become a leader in advocacy was not smooth sailing, but today, the IWSA’s 130+ membership is taking IMO’s 2030 goals a step further by declaring the years 2021-2030 as the “Decade of Wind Propulsion”, an era of delivering wind propulsion installations, optimizing the technology solutions and helping to facilitate a quicker, deeper and ultimately cheaper transition to a fully decarbonized fleet.  

At the heart of our conversation, Gavin presents the motivations and objectives behind the IWSA’s March 24th open letter to the global shipping industry.  We paraphrase the key points here…..

1. Establish a Multi-Stakeholder International Working Group to evaluate and quantify wind propulsion’s potential  contribution to decarbonize the global fleet in the face of the climate emergency. Promote a hybrid approach to decarbonization with wind propulsion fully integrated with optimization measures along with eco-fuels. 

2. Launch a Comprehensive Strategic Review of shipping industry decarbonization efforts in the context of the climate  emergency. The review should quantify all externalities including  infrastructure development and production costs of all alternative propulsion systems and fuels along with their direct  and indirect climate impacts.  

3. Ensure a ‘level playing field’ is created and maintained for all power systems, removal of market and non-market barriers  as well as fair and balanced allocation of R&D finances and resources in the future. 

4. Do more and go beyond the current narrow fuel-centric approach by adopting a fully integrated alternative propulsion  approach to decarbonization pathways and policy. 

Our biggest takeaway from Gavin is a quote he made toward the end of the interview.  He simply asserted “We really can’t be ignoring such an incredibly important energy source that is uniquely available for shipping.” 

We could not have said it better ourselves. 

Grain de Sail

Grain de Sail is a French company charting new waters. We first learned about them in 2018 during one of their exploratory visits to New York and have watched them grow from fantasy to reality to a company to watch.  

In our latest episode, we speak to their marketing director, Stefan Gallard, and ask him to explain how the singular dream of two twin brothers grew into a 72 foot cargo sailboat, coffee refiner, chocolate manufacturer and organic wine exporter within a few years. 

Highlights of our conversation include Stefan telling us how, despite four weeks crossing the choppy Atlantic, Grain de Sail’s December 2020 maiden voyage to New York successfully delivered 15,000 bottles of French wine without a scratch.  We also sail beyond the buzzwords and learn why running a sustainable business is one of their core principles from the first wine harvest to the last mile of delivery.

The big takeaway from this interview is that with vision, elbow grease, smart finances and the right partners, cargo sailboats definitely have a place in global maritime trade and may soon lead the pack to incorporate wind propulsion in many new builds. 

Webb Institute- An American Naval Story

We are always learning from our guests and this week was no exception.  Joining us this time is Bradley Golden, Assistant Professor of Naval Architecture at Webb Institute in Glen Cove, New York.

Webb Institute is the USA’s premier undergraduate institution specializing in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.  All students are admitted on a full-tuition scholarship and graduate with 8 months to one year of practical experience in the field. Webb graduates go on to fill top positions in many aspects of the shipping industry, from military to design to commercial to policy makers.     

In our discussion, Bradley Golden paints a picture of the maritime shipping industry in the United States today.  He explains the origin and impact of the 1920 Jones Act, the transformation of the industry toward decarbonization, as well as the opportunities created by the future implementation of wind farms in the New York New Jersey Bight.  Bradley opened our eyes to the possibilities in our own backyard and gave us reasons to look to the future with hope. 

Orcelle Wind

This week, we interview Roger Strevens, VP Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen, a market leader in RoRo shipping and vehicle logistics. 

 Headquartered in Oslo, with 9,500 employees in 29 countries, Wallenius Wilhelmsen operates a fleet of 120 modern RoRos on a global trade network, with a 3 billion USD revenue in 2020.

In this episode, Roger introduces our listeners to Orcelle Wind, a concept vessel that will be powered primarily by wind and reduce emissions by up to 90% in comparison to other new-build ships. 

Roger details the design and feasibility assessment currently taking place: Orcelle Wind, a full size vessel, can carry 7,000 cars and will be biggest sailing vessel ever built if Wallenius Wilhelmsen finds a way to construct it.

Roger also provides a deep dive into the uncertainties facing the shipping industry regarding decarbonization.  He highlights the huge opportunity to grow market share for the leaders who prioritize and actualize zero emission vessels.  It sounds impossible on today’s standards, but it’s not so far away.


Sails for rockets

In our inaugural episode with our guest Andrew Willner, we discussed the state of the shipping industry and its dependency on fossil fuels.  Andrew cast doubts that regulators will force change without a strong grassroot movement.  He ended on a positive note though, and declared that proven and effective technologies to harvest the wind are now available, in addition to the innovative designs that reduce the energy required to move ships.  

This week, we interview Simon Watin, President of VPLP design, a world-renowned French naval architecture and design firm, known in the US for designing & building the BMW Oracle ship, the 2010 winner of America’s Cup. 

Simon explained the current technology transfer between two worlds that were previously distinct from one another: High-performance racing sail yachts and workhorse shipping vessels. In this exclusive interview, he reveals how VPLP won the bid to build the Canopée, the first sail-powered rocket carrier which will transport the Ariane 6 rocket from Europe to French Guiana.


Ariane Group has selected international maritime transport specialist @Alizés – joint venture between Jifmar Offshore Services and maritime company Zéphyr & Borée – for transportation of Ariane 6 rocket parts by sea from Europe to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The new ship – called “Canopée” – will be equipped with a hybrid propulsion system with mechanical wingsails to provide a means of transport that is reliable, competitive, and environmentally responsible.

The Future of Logistics Is Post Carbon

Our guest is Mr Andrew Willner,  the executive director of the Center for Post Carbon Logistics based in New York Hudson Valley. 

A passionate advocate for a sustainable future, Andrew Willner is also a writer, an author and a consultant. Andrew, a man of many passions,  is above all an indefatigable spokesperson for the use of the wind to power our supply chain in the Hudson Valley. We were lucky to have him as our very first guest. 

Andrew’s point of view is that every component is in place to move on a decarbonated society, wind powered maritime shipping being part of this movement.