Wind-Assisted Propulsion Market to Reach $18.85 Billion by 2032

04 Jun 2024

Wind-assisted propulsion is classified within energy efficiency indices as an "energy harvesting" technology, given its utilization of wind to directly augment thrust. Nevertheless, operational costs remain subject to weather-related uncertainties.  

However, the advantages of sailing can be amplified through the application of weather routing algorithms, which can chart optimal routes tailored to specific vessels. Nonetheless, the widespread adoption of wind-assisted propulsion systems (WAPSs) faces several hurdles, including the imperative need for reliable and efficient technologies capable of functioning effectively across diverse environmental conditions. 

While there is a prospect for wind propulsion systems to become more cost-effective in the future, these presently represent substantial investments. Wind-assisted propulsion systems is expected to boom over the next decade as they act as a substitute to fuel types such as green methanol, biofuels, green hydrogen and others.  

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Wind-Assisted Propulsion Market Overview 

Wind-assisted propulsion is in its initial stage of commercialization, while some of the technologies, such as hull form, are in their developing stage. The ecosystem of the wind-assisted propulsion market comprises wind-assisted propulsion manufacturers, technology providers, ship-building companies, and shipowners. The market is still developing, with Europe at the forefront, followed by other regions such as Asia-Pacific and Japan, China, Rest-of-the-World, North America, and the U.K. 

Market Segmentation: 

Segmentation 1: by Application 
•    Cargo Ships 
        o    Tankers 
        o    Car Carriers/Ro-Ro Vessels 
        o    Container Ships 
        o    General Cargo Vessels 
•    Passenger Ships 
•    Fishing Vessels 
•    Bulk Carriers 

Wind-assisted propulsion is expected to have a high penetration in cargo ships, among other applications, over the forecast period 2023-2032, owing to the increased initiatives by the maritime industry related to decarbonization. 

Segmentation 2: by Technology 
•    Towing Kites 
•    Sails 
        o    Soft-Wing Sails 
        o    Hard-Wing Sails 
•    Flettner Rotors 
•    Suction Wings 
•    Others 

Based on technology, the wind-assisted propulsion market is estimated to be led by the sails segment during the forecast period of 2023-2032. 

Segmentation 3: by Installation Type 
•    Retrofit 
•    New Installation 

Based on installation type, the wind-assisted propulsion market was led by the retrofit segment in 2022. 

Segmentation 4: by Vessel Type 
•    Wind-Assisted Motor Vessels 
•    Purely Wind Vessels 

Based on vessel type, the wind-assisted propulsion market is estimated to be led by the wind-assisted motor vessels segment during the forecast period of 2023-2032. 

Segmentation 5: by Region 
•    North America 
•    Europe - Germany, Greece, France, Norway, Finland, and Rest-of-Europe 
•    China 
•    U.K. 
•    Asia-Pacific and Japan - Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Rest-of-Asia-Pacific and Japan 
•    Rest-of-the-World 

In the global wind-assisted propulsion market, Asia-Pacific and Japan and Europe are anticipated to gain traction in terms of wind-assisted propulsion production, owing to the increased need for decarbonization in the regions. 

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Demand Drivers and Limitations in Wind-Assisted Propulsion Market 

The following are the demand drivers for the wind-assisted propulsion market: 

•    Increasing Need for Reducing GHG Emissions 
•    Rise in Sea Trade 

The market is expected to face some limitations due to the following challenges: 

•    High Installation Cost of Wind-Assisted Propulsion Systems 
•    Technical Challenges Resisting the Adoption of Wind-Assisted Propulsion 

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Recent Developments in the Wind-Assisted Propulsion Market  

  • In May 2022, Econowind and Vertom jointly announced their partnership to equip multiple vessels with wind-assist VentoFoil units by the end of 2022. The initial installations would take place on the general cargo vessels MV Progress and MV Perfect, marking the first fleet order for Econowind. 

  • In April 2021, BAR Technologies and Yara Marine Technologies entered an exclusive agreement to collaborate on the design and deployment of wind-assisted propulsion systems for the worldwide shipping sector. Utilizing solid wing sails, this innovative solution is expected to provide the shipping industry with potential fuel efficiency savings of up to 30%. 

  • In June 2021, Alfa Laval and Wallenius revealed their plan to establish a new joint venture with a 50/50 ownership structure. This joint venture, named AlfaWall Oceanbird, would be dedicated to advancing and implementing technology for entirely wind-powered vessel propulsion. 

  • In September 2023, Airbus plans to install new fuel-saving sails for its maritime operations. The company intends to outfit one of its vessels, which it uses for transporting aircraft subassemblies, and is chartered from shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, with wind-assisted propulsion technology. This technology harnesses wind energy to generate thrust, resulting in significant fuel consumption and CO2 emission savings. 

Key Market Players and Competition Synopsis 

In 2022, sails led the global wind-assisted propulsion market and are further expected to gain traction over the forecast period with increased installations.  

Some of the prominent producers of wind-assisted propulsion are: 

Company Type 1 (by Technology): Towing Kites 
•    SkySails Marine 

Company Type 2 (by Technology): Hard-Wing Sails 
•    Eco Marine Power Co. Ltd. 
•    GT Green Technologies 
•    Mitsui O.S.K. Lines 

Company Type 3 (by Technology): Soft-Wing Sails 
•    Omer Wing-Sail 
•    WingSails Co. 

Company Type 4 (by Technology): Flettner Rotors 
•    Anemoi Marine Technologies Ltd. 
•    Norsepower 

Company Type 5 (by Technology): Suction Wings 
•    Econowind 
•    bound4blue 

Company Type 6 (by Technology): Others 
•    Bar Technologies 

Analyst View 

According to Sachin Singh, Lead Analyst at BIS Research, “Wind-assisted propulsion is in its initial stage of commercialization, while it is expected to gain traction owing to the increased need for decarbonization in the maritime industry and rising need to reduce the usage for fossil fuels. Currently, the market is consolidated with a limited number of players in the ecosystem; however, the market is witnessing new entrants on the back of increasing need for wind-propulsion systems in the market.”