Orcelle Wind, a concept for the world's first wind-powered large RoRo ship. Handout photo.

Shipping Carrier Serving Port of Baltimore Announces Wind-Powered Car Carrier Ship

The largest carrier of roll-on roll-off (RoRo) cargo at the Port of Baltimore has announced it will build the first wind-powered vehicle cargo ship.

Norwegian/Swedish shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen says the Orcelle Wind, a full scale wind-powdered RoRo ship, will reduce emissions by 90 percent.

Wallenius Willhelmsen says the transoceanic shipping industry accounts for nearly three percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and that number is rising with the growth of supersize cargo ships. There’s currently no viable substitute for carbon-based fuels.

“Since 2008, we have been able to reduce CO2 intensity by 33%, which is a significant step. But the journey towards zero emissions requires great strides forward. We believe the Orcelle Wind is one of them,” says Wallenius Wilhelmsen CEO Craig Jasienski.

Calling the Orcelle Wind its “most ambitious sustainability effort to date,” Wallenius Willhelmsen says the vessel will build on its Oceanbird concept, a previously-announced futuristic sailing cargo ship, with RoRo capabilities.

The Orcelle Wind is expected to have an overall car capacity of 7,000 vehicles, along with the ability to carry heavy machinery and breakbulk cargo. At more than 721 feet long with a 131-foot beam, it’s expected to travel at speeds of 10–12 knots under sail, with the help of a supplemental power system.

“Orcelle Wind will be our technical and operational testbed for zero emission innovation, where we can assess and develop various zero-emission fuels and technology,” says Erik Noeklebye, EVP and
COO Shipping Services at Wallenius Wilhelmsen.

The company aims to have a design ready for a shipyard to build by mid-2022, and a finished vessel ready for the high seas by 2025.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen is the leading shipper of roll-on roll-off vehicle cargo at the Port of Baltimore.

The Port of Baltimore welcomes its largest RoRo shipper’s commitment to bringing a low-emissions ship to the Chesapeake.

“Wallenius Wilhelmsen is a longtime and proven leader in reducing carbon emissions from ocean carriers. We are proud to have such a respected corporate citizen as one of our key partners. Modern wind propulsion technology is something WW is capable of bringing to the maritime sector,” says William P. Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, in a statement to Bay Bulletin.

Wallenius Willhelmsen’s next step is a comprehensive viability evaluation.  As the company points out, the Orcelle Wind will need to prove its commercial viability, which will take support from its clients and a shared commitment to “adopting radical and innovative measures to drastically reduce the environmental footprint of outbound supply chains.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano