NOVEMBER 10, 2023
Omani mega ore carrier to be wind-powered
MUSCAT: In a first for Oman’s ocean-going maritime cargo transportation sector, the wholly state-owned ore carrier Sohar Max will be fitted with rotor sails to harness wind energy on its voyages to and from the Sultanate of Oman.
Sohar Max, owned by Asyad Shipping, a subsidiary of Asyad Group – the global integrated logistics services provider, is a 400,000 metric tonne capacity Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) that falls in the category of the world’s largest ore carriers, known as Valemax.
Together with three other similar-sized VLOCs owned by Asyad Shipping, it is exclusively deployed for the transportation of iron ore from mining conglomerate Vale’s production sites in Brazil to Vale’s wholly-owned iron ore pelletising plant in Sohar Port.
On Wednesday, Vale announced that it had signed a framework agreement with Asyad Shipping for the retrofitting of rotor sails on the 362-metre-long Sohar Max. To this end, it has tapped UK-based provider of wind power solutions for the shipping industry, Anemoi, to retrofit the Sohar Max with the rotor sails.
In all, five of these modern mechanical sails – each of around 5-metre diameter – will be installed on the deck of the VLOC. When driven to spin, these cylinders harness the renewable power of the wind to propel ships. As a result, this additional thrust significantly reduces fuel consumption and lowers harmful emissions entering the atmosphere.
The rotor sails can deliver efficiency gains of up to 6 per cent, while cutting CO2 equivalent emissions by up to 3,000 tonnes per ship per year, according to Vale. In favourable wind conditions, the rotor sails also contribute to maintaining the speed of the vessel and reducing sailing times.
Significantly, the pact to retrofit the Sohar Max with rotor sails is one of six innovative technologies that Vale pledged to pilot on the four Valemax ships chartered by the Brazilian miner for deliveries of iron ore to Sohar.
The other five – all of which have since been implemented – include the use of silicone paint to reduce resistance, the installation of frequency inverters to reduce electricity consumption and the application of hydrodynamic devices to enhance propulsion. In addition real-time data collection systems have been installed on all four ships to monitor the performance of these technologies.
“These actions to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into navigation are part of the Ecoshipping programme, an R&D initiative created by Vale’s shipping area to meet the company’s challenge of reducing its carbon emissions, in line with the ambitions set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO),” the Brazilian company added in a statement.
Vale began piloting the installation of rotor sails on its ore carriers in June 2021 when a 320,000-tonne capacity VLOC of the Guibamax category, became the first ore carrier globally to be retrofitted with this technology. Fuel efficiency was up 8 per cent, while CO2 emissions per vessel were 3,400 tonnes per annum, prompting the Brazilian miner to pledge to retrofit 40 per cent of its ore carriers with rotor sails, aimed at achieving a 1.5 per cent reduction in its annual iron ore maritime transport emissions.
“Wind energy will play a central role in our strategy to decarbonise the maritime transportation of iron ore,” said Vale’s Shipping Technical Manager, Rodrigo Bermelho.
“In addition, all these Ecoshipping pilot projects will produce valuable information for the next generation of Guaibamax ships,” he added in a statement.
According to Anemoi, rotor sails are a cost-effective, proven technology that can help ship-owners comply with International Maritime Organisation emission reduction targets and regulations. Average savings would be in the order of 17 million tonnes of bunker, along with 56 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent in emissions per annum, if every suitable vessel is fitted with rotor sails.
“Rotor Sails have demonstrated increased vessel efficiency, reducing fuel consumption, bunker costs and harmful emissions. Compared to other wind propulsion technologies, Rotor Sails offer a much greater thrust force to propel the ship per square metre of sail area. This means they can be made more cost effectively and with less impact on vessel operation than traditional sails or wings,” Anemoi stated.
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