Liner shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd has unveiled that is currently examining various fuels and alternative technologies on board its ships, such as harnessing wind energy.

The German carrier has been working for some time on the issue of wind-assisted ship propulsion and how this could be realised in technical terms.

The company found a partner in the yachtsman Boris Herrmann and his team Malizia, and at the beginning of the year, it launched a concept study for a 4,500 teu ship with a wind-assisted propulsion system.

The liner giant completed the first phase of the concept study in May. In summer, Hapag-Lloyd started phase two, which is still ongoing.

The concept is a potential newbuilding of a ship with a capacity of 4,500 teu. The current design envisages eight sails with a total sail area of 3,000 square metres.

The six rear sails will be extendable, the two front ones retractable. This helps to not hinder cargo operations in port and to protect the sail system from damage as well as to avoid any limitations such as bridges.

Hapag-Lloyd aims to finalise the concept study in the next few months.

According to the team behind the concept, “People also often assume that wind-assisted propulsion is free energy. But that isn’t the case, as it costs a lot of money. There are reasons why there aren’t a lot of container ships with wind-assisted propulsion. With this project, we are now gathering quantifiable data.”

“At the moment, we assume that fuels from renewable energies will be expensive. But things may look different five years down the road, and then we’ll have to reassess whether the project is worthwhile.”