Scotland-based startup Smart Green Shipping (SGS) has started on-land testing of its ‘FastRig’ wingsail solution on 14 March 2024.

The FastRig is an aluminium wingsail that harnesses wind power to deliver thrust to a ship and can reduce shipping emissions by up to 30%, according to the company.

According to SGS, the wingsail was developed collaboratively with input from ship owners and cargo owners, with the financial support of Japanese company MOL Dry Bulk, local government agency Scottish Enterprise, and private investors.

FastRig will undergo its on-land tests at Hunterston PARC in Scotland before commencing on-ship trials later this year.

“Over the past year, wind power has finally become a key part of the emission reduction conversation in the shipping industry,” said Diane Gilpin, SGS founder and CEO. 

“This next phase for FastRig, where it undergoes extensive on-land testing, is crucial to not only ensure its safety and reliability but also allows seafarers and shipowners the chance to actually get up close, give it a go, and feed into our ongoing design development.”

Simple retrofitting

The FastRig is extremely lightweight, which SGS says makes it “quick and easy” to install and uninstall, as it doesn’t need invasive retrofit procedures. The wingsail retracts in light winds to avoid creating additional wind resistance, as well as retracting in heavy weather to improve safety and manoeuvrability.

According to SGS, digitally-enabled versions of the FastRig “know when they have to get out of the way”. The rigs have built-in sensors and are designed with an integral Command and Control system. This system will, after testing on land and with input from the master, crew, owners and ship managers of our sea trials vessel, be overseen from the bridge of a vessel.

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In 2018/19 a collaborative feasibility study with the University of Southampton measuring emissions saved by FastRigs on a Panamax ship predicted that the wingsail would save up to 20% emissions per annum. The most recent FastRig design has been shown to reduce emissions by another 10%.

“Seeing this 20-metre test and demonstration FastRig raised for the first time represents the culmination of a lot of hard work across the entire shipping ecosystem, and I couldn’t be prouder of the whole community,” added Gilpin.

Smart Green Shipping CEO Diane Gilpin stood in from fo the FastRig wingsail before testing commences
Diane Gilpin, Smart Green Shipping founder and CEO, stood in front of the FastRig. Credit: Smart Green Shipping

Plans for bigger Wingsails

SGS has confirmed to Railway Technology that it has received approval in principle from Lloyd’s Register for a 34m version and commercial commitments to install a suite of 34m FastRigs onto a ship next year.

“This is just the beginning: we’re developing larger FastRigs, integrated weather routing software, and frictionless wind-as-a-service offerings for our customers,” said Gilpin.

SGS will perform on-land testing of the rig to assess key safety, operational, technical and mechanical systems, in collaboration with project partners over the next few months.

SGS collaborated with naval architects Humphreys Yacht Design to develop the design of FastRig. Argo Engineering was responsible for translating the design into construction engineering.