Renault Will Use Sails To Cut Emissions On Trans-Atlantic Routes

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Renault Group is on a mission to cut is carbon footprint 6% by 2022. 60% of the parts in Renault’s supply chain travel by sea at some point and many of its finished automobiles are transported by ships as well. It is partnering with Neoline to build two experimental roll-on/roll-off car carriers powered by sails. Each will be 446 feet long and carry more than 45,000 square feet of sails.

Renault sailing cargo ship

Both will be capable of hauling 478 cars and they are expected to average 11 knots when at sea. It is anticipated the new age sailing ships will slash emissions by 90% compared to conventional freighters. They will also have hybrid diesel electric propulsion for operations in port and to ensure on time deliveries. They are expected to enter commercial service before the end of 2020. The design incorporates the latest marine technologies and lessons learned from competitive offshore sailing.

Renault has selected Neoline as its partner for this venture, a company composed of “a group of Merchant Navy officers federated by Michel Péry, captain of ro-ro ships, convinced that the climatic challenges would lead the shipping world to consider new propulsion methods to improve their environmental performance. What unites them is the conviction that the working sail is the only truly sober, immediately available and powerful enough to propel cargo ships,” according to its website.

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Pay no attention to the somewhat fractured syntax. These folks are serious. Jean Zanuttini, CEO of Neoline, says “We are especially pleased that Groupe Renault, a key player in accessible and sustainable mobility for all, is the first partner to join us on board our journey by trusting in Neoline’s maritime transport solution. Considering that the traditional sea freight accounts for nearly 3% of CO2 emissions in Europe.”

The wind-powered vessels are one of a number of ways Renault is exploring to reduce its environmental footprint. Jean-François Salles, Renualt alliance global director in charge of production control tells Seatrade-Maritine “We are also developing more initiatives, such as the use of natural gas transportation between parts suppliers and production sites, the evaluation of transporters’ environmental performance, the modernization of truck fleets, and of course the optimization of our flows to reduce the number of kilometers traveled and to eliminate empty trips.”

If Renault can prove sails help lower emissions from cargo ships while delivering on-time performance, look for the ocean cargo operators to take a fresh look at using sails to help power cargo ships, which as a group have more carbon emissions than any other vehicles in the transportation sector.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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