Trade Brief 4: Cargill sets sail. Literally. With sails on a ship


The shipping industry is under pressure to reduce carbon emissions (they contribute 3% of global carbon emissions, about 20% the contribution of cow farts who let rip 14.5% of global emissions. Seriously).

Taking inspiration from history, Cargill retrofitted one of their bulk grain vessels with sails. Not quite the ropes and canvas sails of a bygone era, but sails nevertheless. These are 37.5 metres long, which ChatGPT tells me is about the height of a 10 story building.


These sails are called WindWings, which sounds like a diaper brand for particularly flatulent infants, but hopefully will do the job of propelling the Pyxis Ocean on its voyage from Singapore to Brazil, where it will load up with grain before setting sail, literally, for Denmark.

You can read more about this here. The video on the page is worth watching.

If this proves economically viable, we may be seeing many more tankers and bulk vessels being retrofitted with sails, making the air just that little bit cleaner. This still leaves us with the whole cow flatulence debacle. Perhaps someone could harvest this most natural of gasses in bovine shaped biodegradable gas bags and save us a whole stage of load shedding?

Enjoy watching the soapies. We’ll think about how sailing ships might change the future of trade.

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