Smart Green Shipping announces £5m investment into FastRig wing sail technology


Three-year project backed by the Scottish Government and industry will develop and test fully automated, emission-reduction sail technology that can be retrofitted to merchant ships

  • Collaborative three-year R&D project brings together major industry players including Malin, Drax, Peel Ports and Lloyd’s Register
  • The wind technology project will deliver a demonstrator on a commercial ship by 2023
  • Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig automated sail technology is compatible with up to 40,000 ships currently operating in the merchant fleet and can deliver at least 20% fuel savings and associated GHG reductions
  • Lloyds Register has granted 1st stage Approval in Principle for FastRig technology

Smart Green Shipping (SGS) has today launched a £5m research and development project for its fully automated FastRigs wing sail technology and digital routing software that will harness the power of wind to deliver major fuel and emissions savings for the shipping industry. The collaborative three-year programme has been made possible by a  £3.2m investment from the private sector, which unlocked a further £1.8m grant from Scottish Enterprise.

SGS founder Diane Gilpin said, “Scotland’s decision to support this project shows that wind technology has the might of a maritime nation behind it. Shipping has a long history of harnessing the power of wind, but digital technologies are allowing us to work towards making zero emission vessels a reality. Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig wing sail technology offers a financially and technically robust solution to help support shipping’s green transition.”

Scottish Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “The FastRig project is an excellent example of how innovation can help us progress in low carbon technologies and ensure Scotland is playing its part in these developments, creating more green jobs and business opportunities to take us on a Mission Zero for transport.”

Over the course of the project SGS will  initially test its FastRig wing sails at a land based site at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Centre in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin. It will further develop its weather routing TradeWind software that creates route plans for wind optimisation. Following successful land based tests, a demonstrator on board a vessel is expected to be tested by 2023.

Major industry partners include Drax, Malin, Peel Ports and LR, who, alongside SGS’s naval architects, consulted with crews and marine engineers, and have already optimised the technology and design to ensure easy retrofitting and cargo access during port operations.

Will Gardiner, CEO, Drax Group, said: “Reducing emissions from global shipping will be one of the key challenges of the energy transition. Drax has been a long term partner of Smart Green Shipping because we’re excited by their wind assisted sail technologies and the impact these technologies could have on our supply chain.”

Lloyd’s Register has granted 1st stage Approval in Principle for the FastRig technology, which augments a ship’s powertrain.

Tom Wolodarsky, Technical Authority for Wind Propulsion Systems, Lloyd’s Register said:

“LR is dedicated to supporting the development and safe adoption of green technologies that

will contribute to decarbonising the maritime sector and the FastRig wing sail technology will

help shipowners with the transition ahead. We have now successfully completed the 1st

stage of Approval in Principle of the technology which can assist in providing assurance to

industry and demonstrate WAPS technology is a safe, viable option which follows well

established, independent standards.”

The FastRig technology is expected to benefit up to 40,000 vessels in the global merchant fleet – primarily bulker and tanker ships. Modelling tests, undertaken by SGS in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit, show that the technology could create at least at least 20% fuel savings and GHG reductions for retrofits, with as much as 50% fuel savings possible for small and medium sized new build ships.

Ben Potter, Director of Malin Equipment, which will provide manufacturing capability and specialist engineering input for the FastRig demonstrator, said: “This is a perfect fit for Malin Equipment – an innovative project that enables us to draw on our deep maritime engineering experience to build on local inventiveness to create rugged, robust and reliable equipment. It is straightforward to retrofit and provides real short-term emissions solutions for global shipping to revolutionise the industry.”

The three-year project will address barriers to wider industry uptake to the technology, with a host of technical, digital and financing solutions. In addition to creating agreements with renewables finance providers to fund installations of the technology onboard ships, the SGS team is developing insurance products that will give confidence of predictable financial returns to commercial operators.

The TradeWind tool has been optimised to gather data that will allow vessels to maximise the use of wind for a journey and optimise a vessel’s routing to minimise fuel consumption and arrive at a port at a designated time – ensuring compatibility with Just In Time arrival operations. Data from Tradewind can be used to underpin charter agreements as well as secure private funding to lease the technology.

The FastRigs technology has been developed alongside industry, with a year-long InnovateUK and Institute of Mechanical Engineers-backed feasibility study in 2018 and in-depth consultations with the wider shipping industry to overcome obstacles to adopting the innovation, including funding mechanisms. SGS developed its digital tools to predict and optimise wind-use in shipping in collaboration with the European Space Agency business incubation centre in 2019.

Notes to editor

Media can watch the live stream of the launch  at 15.30pm 28th July here

Photos of SGS Founder Diane Gilpin and images and videos of the FastRigs technology can be downloaded here

About SGS

Smart Green Shipping was formed in 2014 by Diane Gilpin to develop physical and technical solutions to reduce emissions from the global shipping industry and brings together a team of specialists with backgrounds in shipping, high value manufacturing, data science and finance. The company works across the shipping ecosystem from ship owners, operators to investors and cargo owners to design environmentally, commercially and technically viable ships.

Learn more about how the FastRigs technology and TradeWind solution works here.

For press queries please contact Namrata Nadkarni at Intent Communications Ltd: [email protected]

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About Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. We’re committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn

For press queries please contact Kenny Paterson Communications & Marketing Officer: 01750 535841/ [email protected]

About Malin Group

The Malin Group represents a family of companies, each based on the core values of innovation, transparency and expertise – this ensures that all that we do provides the best possible solution to our clients. Our work spans the full range of services to the offshore and maritime industry – covering a variety of projects, across a range of sectors, all over the world.

For press queries please contact Alison Arnot: [email protected], +44 07834781211