Yara Marine Technologies, the scrubber provider rapidly branching out into green shipping markets, is taking a major step toward the commercial implementation of large-scale wind propulsion by becoming global supplier of BAR Technologies’ WindWings.

The Norwegian technology group has signed a contract with BAR Technologies covering the assembly, maintenance and support of its large-scale rigid wind sails that are about to be tested on a bulk carrier chartered by Cargill.

The deal will include the first retrofit to a Cargill-chartered kamsarmax expected to be delivered in early 2022. It will see the sails marketed as BAR Tech WindWings by Yara Marine Technologies.

A view of BAR Technologies' WingWings design. Photo: BAR Technologies

WindWings sails have gone through hazard workshops with class society DNV to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness, and the technology is making significant progress towards approval in principle, BAR Technologies said.

BAR Technologies chief executive John Cooper said the firm has been working with Yara Marine to find makers of the main steel elements — masts and tilt tables — and aerodynamic parts made from composite materials in Asia so the sails can be fitted mainly at shipyards in the region.

The partnership led to the supply agreement, with Cooper saying that Yara Marine had a global network able to oversee procurement, construction, installation, servicing and training.

The UK-based company is a spin-off from Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie’s attempts to win the America’s Cup and uses insight from yacht racing to help design the sails. It will continue to focus on the research, design and development of a family of three wing sizes.

A first two units deployed on the Cargill bulk carrier will be 37m high wings that BAR Technologies and the trader expect can have a payback period of around four years.

Yara Marine chief executive Thomas Koniordos told TradeWinds the agreement was a significant step forward in the group’s search to provide alternative propulsion technologies.

Depending on the number of units deployed, the WindWings are claimed to be able to cut carbon emissions by up to 30% according to simulation tests across many types of large vessels, routes and weather conditions.

“It was love at first sight — a very nice cultural fit: chemistry, energy levels, speed, decision making on how to tackle problems. For Yara, it adds a significant technology to our portfolio,” Koniordos told TradeWinds.

He expects Yara Marine to develop a commercial supply chain quite quickly after the first installation and tests with Cargill. It will be easier to scale the design from the prototype than develop from scratch, he added.

Jan Dieleman, president, Ocean Transportation, Cargill, said the partnership between BAR Technologies and Yara Marine had brought the first retrofit closer.

“Wind propulsion is increasingly important due to its high energy saving potential and because it works well in any combination with other devices and fuels,” Dieleman said.

Cooper said: “Working with Yara to deliver the first installation of WindWings for Cargill sets the benchmark as a true industry first, and we believe that the combination of expertise afforded by all parties marks out the technology for long-term commercial success.”

Thomas Koniordos, chief executive of Yara Marine. Photo: Yara Marine

“We’ve been increasingly impressed with the scope of the technology, and the firm’s commitment to continue to refine and develop the offering,” added Koniordos of the sails.

As part of a gathering process to diversify into sustainable technologies, Yara Marine has this year partnered French shore power supply firm NG3 to deliver cold-ironing equipment that allows ships to cut emissions at berth by plugging into ports’ electricity systems.

Yara Marine also announced the winner of its first innovation accelerator as an Israeli developer of a marine aluminium-air battery system, Phoenician Energy.

​The batteries produce high amounts of electricity from oxygen reacting with aluminium anodes and do not need to be recharged. Eventually the anodes need replacing, but they can be recycled and unlike lithium, aluminium is not a rare metal.

The company’s parent group, fertiliser maker Yara International, has also revealed plans to produce 500,000 tonnes per year of green ammonia at a plant in Norway that can be used to produce emission-free shipping fuels.

BAR Technologies has also designed and supplied wind-farm supply vessels with advanced efficiency hulls and a diver delivery vessel that can sail on the surface at a speed of 50 knots for 250 nautical miles (463 km) before submerging and operating at depths of up to 30 metres.