Co-funded under grant agreement n° 101038256
Every year, 940 million tons of CO2 – about 13% of EU Green House Gas emissions and nearly 3% of the global worldwide emissions – are emitted from the shipping industry.
We are facing an emergency, and we need to start decarbonizing shipping now. The SEAWING4BLUE project, co-funded by the European Union, aims to tackle this challenge by supporting the scaling up of the next break-through sustainable alternative to fossil energy in the shipping industry.
90% of the products consumed by European citizens are transported by ship.
The shipping sector generates 2.3 million jobs in Europe and contributes to €145 billion of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product. At the same time, the shipping sector is one of the most significant sources of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
The economic and environmental challenges for the shipping sector are huge: the European Commission by including the maritime sector in the EU ETS scheme strengthens the regulatory pressure.
At the same time, the increase in fuel prices continues to impact shipowners, becoming, in this extremely low margin sector, a burden representing up to 50% of fleets’ annual operating costs.
In a context where alternative fuels will only be mature and in sufficient quantity within 10 years, with a very challenging carbon emissions balance from a full life cycle standpoint, this sector has to find out some solutions right away and some solutions based on renewable energies.
The Seawing, the innovative solution that we aim at further developing with the SEAWING4BLUE project, is one of the immediate available solutions which must be deployed massively to decarbonise right away the shipping sector.
Project main activities
The two-years SEAWING4BLUE project aims at finalizing the development of the product called “Seawing”, developed by the start-up Airseas, and fine-tuning the system to be ready for industrialisation and serial production, which is planned for 2024. The serial product, developed within SEAWING4BLUE, will be an integrated system composed of a 1000 square meters kite wing controlled by a pod, a deck structure including a 36 meters high mast to deploy the wing and a storage tank, and software technologies to control the flight automatically (digital twin technology) and to help the crew in routing the ship (ecorouting software).
The Seawing aims at maximising the power of the wind through the large wingspan of its structure, flying at a high altitude to capture a more stable wind- and through its figure of 8 dynamic flight, thus multiplying by 10 the power of the wind.
The advantages of the Seawing:
Using renewable energy, wind, which is an unlimited, abundant and free energy
Independent from fossil fuel and from the price of fuel or alternative fuels.
Retrofitting existing ships with minimum deck space required and no technical stopover (48 hours to install).
The start of SEAWING4BLUE coincided with the first complete Seawing system leaving the factory. We assembled it in the port of La Rochelle for final ground tests before installation on the Airbus ship.
The SEAWING4BLUE project is expected to generate 150 FTEs and a portfolio of 12 patents filed worldwide by 2026 while saving 7 million CO2 emissions per year.
By 2030, we expect to deliver 600 Seawings.
We are working closely with other key players in the wind propulsion industry as well as clusters dedicated to the maritime transport sector and wind propulsion. The project will then contribute to the development of specific standards and regulations for wind propulsion as well as methods for measuring the performance of wind propulsion.
Background to the project
In 2016, two Airbus engineers founded Airseas. Since then, the company has moved to Nantes, France, to establish itself in an industrial and dynamic region. We are now located close to leading players in the aerospace, maritime and offshore industries.
Behind the SEAWING4BLUE project:
Our CEO and co-founder, Vincent Bernatets:
“Faced with the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. In the field of navigation, we can achieve this by using all the tools we have today. Wind power is one of those tools. It will play a key role in helping shipping achieve its necessary transition to decarbonisation.”
Our General Counsel and Secretary General, Stéphanie Lesage:
“If we are to achieve the IMO* target of zero emissions by 2050, we need a hybrid propulsion system that combines the solutions available today to decarbonise the maritime sector with the alternative fuels of tomorrow. There is no single solution for the zero-emission ship. Investing in zero-carbon technologies now is therefore the best solution for ship owners. Both in terms of profitability and environmental footprint.”
*International Maritime Organization
Project Management & Coordination
Upscale of the Seawing system kite
Flight control laws and development tools
Seawing system Testing, Demonstration and offshore Validation
IP Management, Communication and Dissemination
Seawing4blue project overview
Romain GIBON Programs & Product Manager at Airseas