French wind propulsion company Airseas is building a new research and development centre in Morocco to continue the development of its Seawing kite system.

The 2,400m² hangar and “advanced test bench” in Dakhla will allow the company to work towards the large-scale production of the technology, expected in 2025, by providing a space to test the parafoil and its individual components in an area with continuous and stable winds.

CEO Vincent Bernatets described the investment as a long-term commitment to the development of the technology, saying: “This comes at a pivotal time, as shipping is under growing pressure from regulators, investors and its customers’ customers to reduce its environmental impact, starting this decade.

“We are convinced that wind propulsion will play a central role in this transition, now and in the longer term. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, there is no time to wait and this is why we are working tirelessly to progress our Seawing system through the final testing stages.”

A digital rendering of the new centre in Morocco. Credit: Airseas/Artchi Concept.

Testing at the new centre will take place on land and at sea, as the company says that Dakhla was chosen to allow Airseas to perform a range of trials on a daily basis.

The Seawing is a large parafoil that flies 300m above sea level to provide wind propulsion to vessels and reduce the main engine load to lower fuel consumption and thus greenhouse gas emissions.

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The company was founded in 2016 and has already seen investment from large companies such as Airbus and “K” Line, who have contracted Airseas for the deployment of Seawing on a number of its bulker vessels and have been working on sea trials of the tech, with more expected in the coming months.

Testing at the Morocco facility will focus on the final stages of development, including fine-tuning the flight dynamics.