Big boost for British business as 123ft-tall wind-powered cargo ship sets sail

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Big British-designed sails are propelling a cargo ship on its first-ever journey, and it’s not just a regular trip.

The ship’s owner, Cargill, hopes these special sails will make shipping more eco-friendly.

These sails, called WindWings, are designed to use less fuel and reduce pollution from ships. Right now, shipping is responsible for around 2.1 per cent of the pollution that is causing climate change.

The ship, named Pyxis Ocean, is travelling from China to Brazil. This trip is like a real-world test for the new sails.

It’s a way to see if using sails like olden times could be a new solution for moving things on the ocean while being kinder to the planet.

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When the ship is parked at a port, the sails fold down. But when it’s out in the open sea, the sails open up standing about as high as a 12-story building.

These sails work with the wind to help the ship move, so it doesn’t have to use as much engine power. This could cut down how much pollution the ship makes by about 30 per cent over its lifetime.

The boss of Cargill Ocean Transportation, Jan Dieleman, says the shipping industry is trying hard to be less polluting. He knows there’s no one quick fix, but he thinks this new sail technology shows how things are changing fast.

He told the BBC: “Five, six years ago if you would ask people in shipping about decarbonising, they would say ‘well, it’s going to be very difficult, I don’t see this happening any time soon’.

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“Five years later, I think the narrative has changed completely and everybody is really convinced that they need to do their part – everybody is just struggling a little on how we’re going to do this.

“That’s why we’ve taken the role as one of the larger players to underwrite some of the risk, and try things, and take the industry forward.”

The Pyxis Ocean is expected to complete its journey in approximately six weeks, but the technology it employs traces its roots to something considerably swifter.

This innovation stems from the efforts of the UK company BAR Technologies. The company emerged as a spin-off from Sir Ben Ainslie’s 2017 America’s Cup team, a contest often likened to the ‘Formula One of the seas’.

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