Econowind scales up

Econowind scales up with support from NOM & Horizon Flevoland

Till 30-metre high sails for large ocean-going vessels

Using the power of the wind, ocean-going vessels can sail more efficiently. Dutch company Econowind builds ‘VentoFoils’ in Zeewolde and Warten. These sails enable ship owners to reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%. This contributes to making the shipping industry more sustainable. The Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM) and Horizon Flevoland are investing heavily in the scale-up to enable rapid growth.

You can best describe Econowind’s invention of the VentoFoil as a vertical aircraft wing that converts wind into forward thrust of the ship. Internal fans reinforce the effect thus making a significant difference to the consumption of increasingly expensive fuels. “We have been developing for five years and are now facing major growth,” says managing director Frank Nieuwenhuis.

World market leader
Since 2016, Econowind has been pioneering wind propulsion for seagoing vessels. The 16-metre aluminium VentoFoil, which is ideally suited for the shortsea market, is produced at the Zeewolde factory. “But we are now also collaborating with Bijlsma shipyard in Warten, where we are building the thirty-metre high steel VentoFoils, which are perfect for large ocean-going vessels. We expect a lot of growth to come from this sector as well. With this full range of wind sails, we can serve various market segments and further expand our international leading position.”

Investment gives wings
The company’s growth requires capital. That is why NOM and Horizon Flevoland are both investing in the company. With this participation, Econowind can go ahead and scale up production. The plans are ambitious. Nieuwenhuis: “In 2027, we will make at least one every day: in Zeewolde, Warten and at another location in the world. With over 50,000 active seagoing vessels, the market is incredibly large.”

Wind optimization
“In addition, we are further automating the control systems. Now the sails go up automatically and when the wind is too strong, they fold in. The crew is not involved with operating the VentoFoils. And soon customers will be able to get even more efficiency out of the VentoFoils due to Artificial Intelligence. Information about the wind will be integrated into the models. We will convert the wind forecast into direct advice on the most optimal sailing route. That means deviating from the shortest route to go faster with the wind.”

Making shipping more sustainable
Environmental legislation for ocean-going vessels is becoming stricter. With the introduction of the CO2 tax in 2024, ship owners want to accelerate sustainability. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is aiming for 40% CO2 reduction for shipping. “The time is ripe: sustainability is high on the agenda in the industry. Shipping companies are striving for fuel economy: wind propulsion is a proven and fuel-independent solution. The payback time for current ships is around five years. With the VentoFoils, ships can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30% at voyage level.”

Proven solution
In recent years, Econowind has installed and extensively tested sixteen wings. It is a proven technology that is robust under the challenging conditions at sea. The VentoFoils can be installed on existing ships and also integrated into new-build vessels. “Meanwhile, we have reduced the production time of a 16-metre wing to a few months. This is very fast in this industry. We want to be able to deliver quickly because our customers ask for this. You can see the confidence of the market reflected in the order book.”

For NOM, the participation is logical for several reasons, says investment manager Allard ter Horst: “Making the maritime sector more innovative and sustainable is one of our spearheads. Production in Warten, Friesland, gets the north of the Netherlands really involved. Econowind already has contracts with shipyards and ship owners at home and abroad. With a mature team, the company makes products that are super interesting for the maritime future. We are happy to be part of that. Moreover, it leads to employment in the region. We welcome that.”

Achieving growth
Inge Verschuur of Horizon Flevoland thinks Econowind is a wonderful company: “We expect that the company can grow very fast in the short term. That is why Econowind fits into our Growth Fund. We are impressed by the team, and by the other shareholders, who also provide expert advice. Innovation is a spearhead for us, of course, but we are also there to help achieve growth. In that respect, we think Econowind is an inspiring example and we have high expectations.”

Econowind scales up with support from NOM and Horizon Flevoland



Shipping can profitably reduce CO2 with VentoFoil wind support

Shipping can profitably reduce CO2 with VentoFoil wind support

Wind pioneers become Ambassadors

Making shipping more sustainable is high on the agenda of shipping companies, shippers and policymakers. The IMO is developing international regulations and standards with a view to achieving a 40% CO2 reduction by 2030. eConowind contributes to this with its VentoFoil concept: a flexible, vertical ‘wing’ that converts wind into extra thrust. With this, ships can already save up to 15 per cent on their fuel consumption on an annual basis. As the first VentoFoil users are impressed, they now start to share their experiences with the market as official ambassadors.

With the start of the CO2 tax in 2024, it becomes important for ship owners to accelerate the green transformation. Especially now that industry and shipping are under the magnifying glass. International shipping accounts for 3 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, this mode of transport is still the most efficient per tonne-kilometre.

Frank Nieuwenhuis of eConowind says: “It is great to work in the energy transition and I am grateful for the efforts of these four innovators. With all the pooled knowledge and experience, we can make the wings more widely available. There is momentum and our order pipeline is well-stocked. Several shipping companies have closely followed the innovators and ordered their own VentoFoils. With the increased production capacity, we can now serve the market even better. We are continuing to develop as a scale-up and advanced discussions are ongoing with several investors.”

‘Wind assisted propulsion’ (WASP) on existing vessels not only reduces CO2 emissions, it also brings significant fuel and cost savings. With eConowind’s VentoFoils, shipowners can already profitably reduce CO2. Users see a positive contribution immediately after installation. The low-maintenance system can be installed within two days.

Wind pioneers become ambassadors
Four Dutch shipowners have worked closely with eConowind and gained experience with the first 2 generations of VentiFoils. They will now pioneer the 3rd generation of ‘VentoFoils’ and become active Ambassadors of eConowind. This generation of wings delivers demonstrable savings enabling ships to meet tightened environmental requirements.

Johan Boomsma of Boomsma Shipping says: “For us, energy efficiency is key, which is why we are always open to new developments. I think the three key factors – unit cost, fuel prices and European ETS legislation – are converging in such a way that wind-assisted propulsion will soon become one of the standard solutions. eConowind will succeed in making a significant contribution to reducing shipping emissions.”

Why become an eConowind ambassador?
“Besides the above,” continues Boomsma, “we want to show customers and competitors that shipowners can reduce their fuel consumption with a proven, affordable system. For the crew, it is easy to use; with the push of a button you can deploy and lower the sails again. Finally, and very importantly for us, eConowind speaks our language. As an exponent of the Dutch maritime manufacturing industry, it supplies high-quality equipment to shipowners. At Boomsma, we include the VentoFoils in all our new construction plans.”

According to Jan van Dam, of Van Dam Shipping, the installation has become a no-brainer: “As the first user of the VentiFoil system, we see how the system is developing in a positive way. We will have to go green as an industry and wind-assisted propulsion is a ‘quick win’. With our 4,000-tonne vessel, we consume about 1,250 tonnes of fuel a year. With current fuel prices, you will earn back the VentoFoils within four years. When the CO2 tax comes into force, it will go faster. Together with Tata Steel, we are looking at developing a hydrogen-powered ship. With that kind of expensive fuel, we will earn back the VentoFoils even faster.”

Lease construction for positive cash flow
By deploying modern leasing structures, VentoFoils are readily available to ship owners. With this financing option, the wind-assisted propulsion units deliver positive cash flow from day one. Thomas van Meerkerk of Vertom Group also sees the VentoFoil system as part of the sustainability roadmap: “With this solution, you can make the existing fleet more sustainable. As Vertom, we will deploy the system on 3 ships. We are investigating whether we can equip even more ships with these wind wings. We are also investigating if VentoFoils can be deployed on sustainable new-build ship designs in combination with, for example, hydrogen or methanol. Through the lease construction, we can deploy the VentoFoils in a cashflow-neutral way. This allows us to learn, do research and share our experiences with fellow shipowners.”

Wind is an inexhaustible and free source of energy. VentoFoil systems can be deployed regardless of whether a vessel runs on traditional or green fuels. It can boost renewable fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, methanol and/or electricity. After all, these are often relatively expensive fuels, reducing the ROI of eConowind’s systems. Captain Gerrit Schram of Vertom sees future-proofing shipping as an important task: “You will need these kinds of systems in the near future to keep running your business.”

The early adaptors’ conclusion is therefore that wind-assisted propulsion is cost-effective, sustainable and future-proof. That is why they have now become active ambassadors.

Shipping can profitably reduce CO2 with VentoFoil wind support



MV Ankie

Extended VentiFoils for MV Ankie

MV Ankie after installation of the extended VentiFoils!

The VentiFoils were disassembled from the vessel in the end of 2021 with the purpose to extend the VentiFoils from 10m to 13m.
Performance tests are being carried out at this moment as the vessel is back sailing with VentiFoils.

MV Ankie

MV Ankie

Jeroen Houtman

Vertom and Econowind shake hands

Econowind receives fleet order from Vertom

Econowind and Vertom announced their collaboration to install wind-assist VentoFoil units on multiple vessels by the end of 2022. These will be retrofitted on the general cargo vessels MV Progress and MV Perfect, making it the first fleet order for
Econowind. Thomas van Meerkerk of Vertom states: “Vertom recognized the momentum for partnerships with a clear focus on decarbonizing our business activities and supply chain. After closely considering the business case of the VentiFoil units, we are pleased to extend our collaboration with Econowind with another order for two vessels.”

Next generation VentiFoil
Econowind will install the next generation VentiFoils on the vessels: the VentoFoil. The suction method has been upgraded, which results in limiting the amount of moving parts. This next step by Vertom allows Econowind to further invest in production methods, making production faster.

MV Perfect Vertom

Collaboration Continued
Vertom has been studying wind assisted propulsion in more detail for their vessels since signing the contract for the retrofit of two VentiFoils on the MV Anna, which will be installed in June 2022.
Vertom made the decision to invest in the VentiFoil, by also closely considering the following key variables:
• EEXI, Carbon Intensity Index for existing ships;
• CII, CO2 per nautical mile in operation;
• EEOI, emission per cargo.
All ensuring a more sustainable performance by means of wind assisted propulsion. Rolf van Leeuwen, Senior Technical Superintendent of Vertom states: “Installing the VentiFoils is a big step forward in reducing (Co2) emissions and fuel consumption for our current fleet. It is, along with our upcoming newbuilding program, a good step towards reducing our carbon footprint.”

Vessels more sustainable and cleaner by wind assist propulsion
Frank Nieuwenhuis, CEO of Econowind adds: “We are delighted to add Vertom to our customer base and to make this next step in making shipping more sustainable together. The more installations we can retrofit, the more data we can attain and learn from. This provides us with solid proof of how wind assisted ship propulsion is reducing emissions per nautical mile and improving vessels their EEXI / EEDI. This also serves as a justification for the investment; the costs of systems can be covered by the savings.”

Download full press release:
Press Release Econowind Vertom May 2022

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