Groupe Renault has announced that it is to start working with Neoline – a Nantes-based designer and operator of cargo sailing ships – to create a “new maritime transport solution” which, it hopes, will help reduce the carbon footprint of its supply chain.
The project involves a three-year agreement during which time two wind-powered cargo ships will be built and put into operation between Saint-Nazaire and the USA.
"We are delighted to see this news and congratulate Groupe Renault on taking this decisive step towards a fully decarbonised supply chain with these well-designed primary wind propulsion vessels,” said Gavin Allwright, secretary general of the International Windship Association, shortly after the announcement.
“This development is great news for wind propulsion innovators as a whole, with cargo owners and ship operators increasingly considering wind propulsion as a viable, cost effective low carbon option for their fleets.
“We can't wait to see these vessels launched and operational in the not too distant future."
Groupe Renault – which has been making cars since 1898 – is now a global operation with a presence in 134 countries and sales of almost four million vehicles in 2017.
Currently, more than 60 per cent of its parts and vehicles are transported by sea.
Neoline has already created a demonstration vessel – a 136m ro-ro ship with 4,200 square metres of sail – which features innovative technical solutions borrowed from both the commercial maritime sector and competitive sailing.
The company was founded in 2015 by a team of maritime professionals dedicated to transforming the shipping industry into a more responsible maritime transport business.
It says it intends is to become the first shipowner to fully embrace energy efficiency by relying on wind power as its primary energy source.