Wind-powered cargo ship sets sail

Published: March 18, 2024

As the world’s first hybrid industrial cargo ship to be propelled by wind, Canopée is a leader in a fast-growing space. 

In November 2023, a pioneering new cargo ship completed its first transatlantic voyage. Operated by French company Alizés, Canopée has an unusual purpose: it was designed to transport parts for Ariane 6, Europe’s latest space rocket. But it’s the four giant sails (called OceanWings) that set the ship apart. 

Fully automated, these 37-metre high ‘wings’ can rotate 360 degrees to follow the wind, boosting the ship’s propulsion. While these wings are not sufficient to power Canopée by themselves – the vessel still requires two 3,840kW diesel engines – they could slash its average annual fuel consumption by 30% and cut its operational costs in half. This makes Canopée the world’s first hybrid industrial cargo ship to be powered by wind.

Alizés, Canopée’s operator, is a joint venture firm set up between Zéphyr & Borée and Jifmar Offshore Services in 2019. Jifmar is backed by the European infrastructure fund Marguerite II, which acquired a majority stake in the company in 2022. Together, they will operate the vessel for space launcher ArianeGroup, making a dozen voyages a year between various European ports and the spaceport centre in French Guiana.

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