The French shipbuilding company Chantiers de l’Atlantique announced the installation of a first-of-its-kind model of Solid Sail/AeolDrive. This is the company's solution for sail propulsion adapted to big ships, installed on the heart of the shipyard.
The announcement was made during a live-broadcasted event from MSC Virtuosa in Saint-Nazaire, France, which gathered the presidents of the Regional Council of Brittany and Pays de la Loire, local and regional industrial partners, and Jean le Cam (project's technical consultant).
It is one of the world's highest composite masts, towering 95 m (311 ft) above the ground. The mast will be installed on Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s site in 2022. The system's centerpiece is the rigging called AeolDrive - a mast tiltable through 70-degrees. It is expected to support the 1200 m2 (12920 ft2) Solid Sail made entirely of foldable and high-performance composite materials.
The installation will be in 2 phases - Phase 1 (38 m / 125 ft long mast and 550 m2 / 657 yd2 sail during 2021-Q3) and Phase 2 (in 2022-Q3, 1:1 scale installation). Just like the previous prototype (1:5 scale) tested for 2 years on a pier of Pornichet harbour, the system is to be combined with a balestron rig rotating 360-degrees. A system of force and position sensors will enable the kinematic and aerodynamic performances to be evaluated.
This is the first step of the necessary technical validation before the Solid Sail/AeolDrive solution commercialization and application to big ships.
The first commercial application for the solution is destined to 200 m (655 ft) long cruise ships designing and manufacturing. The vessels will use both sailing propulsion and marine engines, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 50%. Other applications, including such with regard to cargo vessels and large pleasure boats, are also considered.