Two French organisations – car maker Renault Group and prospective sailing ship operator Neoline – have agreed a three-year project under which cargoes of vehicles and components could be carried across the Atlantic on two innovative wind-powered ro-ro ships.
Neoline, which was formed in 2015 with the intention of developing industrial-scale wind-powered freight services that are cleaner, customised and competitive, in response to the logistical needs of shippers. Led by a team of maritime professionals with seagoing experience, the project has culminated in the design of a commercial demo with the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90% through the use of wind power primarily, combined with a cost-cutting speed and optimised energy mix, compared to a traditional cargo ship on an equivalent route. The prototype, a 136-meter ro-ro ship with 4.200m2 of sail area, features an innovative blend of technical solutions borrowed from the shipping industry as well as from competitive sailing.
The objective is to build two ships based on this model and to commission the vessels by 2020-2021 on a pilot route joining Saint-Nazaire, the US Eastern seaboard and Saint-Pierre & Miquelon.
This week Neoline announced that over the summer it had asked for tenders from shipyards for the construction of the two vessels with proposals being expected by the end of the year.
For Renault, the project is in line with the Group’s environmental strategy of reducing its carbon footprint by 25% between 2010-2022, with a 6% target for its supply chain versus 2016. Jean-François Salles, Alliance Global Director, Production Control, added: “The partnership with Neoline is the latest example of our supply chain’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by 6% between 2016 and 2022. For nearly 10 years, we have been working to identify the most environmentally sustainable solutions: for example, optimising the fill rates of the containers and trucks, producing eco-friendly packaging, and implementing a multimodal system. We are also developing more initiatives, such as the use of natural gas transportation between parts suppliers and production sites, the evaluation of transporters’ environmental performance, the modernisation of truck fleets, and of course the optimisation of our flows to reduce the distance travelled and to eliminate empty trips”.
Jean Zanuttini, CEO of Neoline, said, “We are especially pleased that Groupe Renault, a key player in accessible and sustainable mobility for all, is the first partner to join us on board our journey by trusting in Neoline’s maritime transport solution. Considering that the traditional sea freight accounts for nearly 3% of CO2 emissions in Europe, Neoline aims to build an innovative French solution to address a global environmental challenge while remaining within an industrial and competitive framework, with the support from its partners.”