£5m Smart Green Shipping project set to turn the tide to make shipping 20% greener


Smart Green Shipping, a systems design and engineering company, aims to lead global shipping’s green transition through unique industry collaboration with Malin, Drax and the shipping sector with targets to reduce greenhouse gas and fuel costs by at least 20% via high tech sails. The project is supported by Scottish Enterprise, industry partners and private investors.

SMART Green Shipping announced its plans to transform the global shipping sector at its new headquarters at The Crichton in Dumfries today (Thursday 28 July) with representatives from enterprise agencies, investors and the Scottish shipping industry.

The company received a £1.8m grant from Scottish Enterprise towards a research and development project with a total value of £5m match funded by the private sector.

Smart Green Shipping is set to develop new concepts for shipping through renewable engineering of FastRig wing sails as well as weather routing software and circular economy business models over the course of a three-year project. 

The company is initially investing in 13 new roles to support the business in evolving its technology and has plans to install its demonstration FastRig at Peel Ports Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (Hunterston PARC) in collaboration with Clyde-based specialist engineering partner Malin.

This will create a wing sail manufacturing base in Glasgow with plans to have a demonstrator FastRig for testing on a commercial ship by 2023.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee said: “Scotland has long had significant shipbuilding capabilities which play an integral part as we strive towards a fairer, greener and more prosperous economy. We want to become the home of manufacturing innovation, and to be seen as inventors and producers.

“We are fully committed to meeting our climate targets of reaching net-zero by 2045 and decarbonising transport is a crucial part of the wider changes needed to achieve this. COP26 in Glasgow highlighted innovative thinking would be key to achieving these aims. The FastRig project is an excellent example of how innovation can help us progress in low carbon technologies and ensure Scotland is playing its part in these developments, creating more green jobs and business opportunities to take us on a Mission Zero for transport.”

The initial stages of the project will manufacture and deploy FastRig systems designed to augment any ship’s powertrain to save fuel, reduce mechanical wear and generate emissions credits.

In addition to the physical sail the company is also developing digital tools, in a project called TradeWind, that uses data to predict and optimise wind-use in shipping. 

The company has been working on shipping solutions for a decade and secured InnovateUK funding in 2018 for a feasibility study with Drax and shipowners into its FastRig technology.

Smart Green Shipping founder Diane Gilpin has an innovation background, from cellular phone technology, to F1 and yacht racing, to renewables, and is a member of the Clean Maritime Council that advises the UK government on industry strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

Smart Green Shipping Chief Executive Diane Gilpin said: “Our purpose is to develop financially and technically superior solutions that support shipping’s green transition. There are huge commercial benefits to developing transformative systems.

“We’re in a climate emergency and we’re thrilled to be benefiting from Scotland’s support. It’s a country that punches above its weight with its ambitious net zero response and for the country to get behind Smart Green Shipping’s FastRig and 100% renewable ships will enable us to get to market and start driving down emissions all the sooner.”

Scottish Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise supported the company following collaboration at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Scottish Enterprise Director of Economic Opportunities and Climate Suzanne Sosna said: “Our work at COP26 in bringing innovative companies together with the shared ambition of creating a greener Scottish economy helped attract Smart Green Shipping to Scotland.

“I’m delighted our support allows the company to scale up its digital technology and engineer a working FastRig through access to talent, infrastructure and manufacturing resources for this collaborative project.

“Scotland has a very proud shipbuilding heritage, and it is fitting that Smart Green Shipping’s project will be anchored on the Clyde in Glasgow where the future of green shipping can turn the tide to meet global net zero targets.”

South of Scotland Enterprise Director of Net Zero Martin Valenti said: “Smart Green Shipping’s efforts to lead a transformational change in the sector from their new headquarters in the South of Scotland is hugely significant.

“Recent figures showed global shipping emissions represented over one million tonnes of CO2 and was responsible for almost 3% of global emissions.

“Smart Green Shipping highlight that the just transition to net zero should not be seen as a barrier to businesses, but the most significant economic opportunity of our time.

“SOSE, alongside our partners, are ready to support businesses, social enterprise and community groups on this journey.”

Initial collaborators on the research and development project include Lloyds Register, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, International Futures Forum, Drax Group, Peel Ports and Malin with the European Space Agency having provided support with meteorological digital systems.

Malin will provide manufacturing capability and specialist engineering input during the project to produce the FastRig demonstrator.

Malin Equipment Director Ben Potter said: “We believe that there is a real opportunity here for Scotland to be at the forefront of rapidly developing innovation. We are delighted that Scottish Enterprise, through their grant support, have enabled us to support SGS in making this aim a reality.

“This is a perfect fit for Malin Equipment – an innovative project that enables us to draw on our deep maritime engineering experience to build on local inventiveness to create rugged, robust and reliable equipment that is straightforward to retrofit and provides real short-term emissions solutions for global shipping to revolutionise the industry.”

Energy company Drax Group came to the project with Smart Green Shipping to improve the environmental impact of its cargo logistics following initial analysis on a transatlantic vessel carrying sustainable biomass for renewable electricity at Drax Power Station North Yorkshire.

The analysis, supported by the Innovate UK programme, of retrofitting ‘FastRigs’ to an existing 83,000 tonne bulk carrier showed annual fuel and emissions savings of at least 20% per annum at the ship’s usual operating speed.

Drax Group’s UK Head of Logistics Mark Gibbens said: “Across our global supply chain, we are continuously reviewing our operations, and seeking to deploy innovative techniques to lower our carbon emissions.

“Cutting emissions from shipping will be one of the key challenges of the energy transition, but we know we can achieve this through innovation and collaboration with others. That’s why Drax is excited by Smart Green Shipping’s pioneering wind-assisted sail technology and the positive impact this new technology would have on our supply chain.”

Every stage of the project is designed with consideration to the environment as the company intends to use sustainable materials in the production of its FastRigs and will develop a software application using data to calculate optimum equipment and sailing to further reduce emissions.

The project supports Scotland’s net zero ambitions and will support the decarbonisation of the global shipping sector – that emits more than one million tonnes of GHG emissions every day.

The International Maritime Organisation consensus is to reduce emissions from shipping by at least 50% by 2050 and Smart Green Shipping has aligned its own project objectives to these targets.

Find out more about Smart Green Shipping 

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