I would like to respond to the recent article about wind power in the DCN. I hate to take the wind out of Mr De Beukelaer’s sails (excuse the pun), but some of his suggestions are unrealistic.

I can’t see how a 200,000 DWT ore carrier will sail (wind assisted) from Port Hedland to China, or a wind powered 20,000 TEU container vessel with perishable cargo on board sail from China to Europe going through the Suez Canal, in a timely manner. Yes, wind assisted vessels are already a reality and will become more prevalent, but ships’ engines will remain the main propulsion for most vessels.

I speak from experience as I sailed (wind assisted only) on a tall ship, Barque Europa, around Cape Horn. We were becalmed in the Doldrums off the coast of Brazil for two days, a good opportunity to go for a swim in the ocean but we didn’t make much progress, and when rounding the Horn were hit with a Force 10 gale and were nearly blown to Antarctica.

Fortunately, there are other alternatives to wind power that also have zero emissions. Maersk and other shipping lines have large container ships on order which will be powered by green methanol. Ship’s engine manufactures are looking at other alternative, zero-emission fuels that can be used for propulsion. Battery-powered ships on short-haul routes are already in service and more are on order.

Ship owners are a conservative mob but hopefully they will come on board and exceed the IMO target, a reduction of 70% carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, and aim for zero emissions from shipping to assist in keeping global warming within an acceptable range.

Peter van Duyn,
Maritime logistics expert, Deakin University