Canadian company aims for carbon negative sea freight

Signal of change / Canadian company aims for carbon negative sea freight

By Anna Simpson / 08 Mar 2019

Canadian company SailCargo is building a wooden three-mast sailing cargo ship in Costa Rica to pioneer carbon-negative marine freight. The 45m-long ship, called Ceiba, would be the world's largest self-propelled vehicle, with a carrying capacity of 250 tons or ten standard containers.


The design combines old-world ship building techniques with avant-garde energy and propulsion systems design. For maneuvers and in calm weather, electric motors and batteries are installed - but these will not be charged in ports but fed exclusively from solar cells and wind turbines mounted on the ship, as well as wave energy generators below deck.

Sailcargo estimates the construction costs at USD 3.6 million. It is also planting thousands of tropical hardwood trees in the coming year, of which 10% could be used in new projects.


So what?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.2% of the global human-made emissions in 2012, and expects them to rise by 50-250% by 2050 if no action is taken. Ships are also responsible for more than 18% of air pollutants. Transformation in the shipping sector is therefore an urgent task.    What potential for scale does Sailcargo's project hold? While Ceiba is large by sailing standards, it is easily dwarfed by container ships such as the Maersk Triple E class, which measure 399.2m and can carry 18,000 containers. Could renewables ever power a ship this size?   


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

Please register or log in to comment.