First Minister launches new technology to decarbonise global shipping

An innovative retractable wingsail that developer Smart Green Shipping estimates can save commercial shipping companies up to 30% fuel per year has been launched by First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Its development has been supported by £1.8 million Scottish Enterprise grant funding and £1.35 million equity investment from leading Japanese shipping company MOL Drybulk and Scottish Enterprise, with South of Scotland Enterprise helping the company establish a base in Dumfries.

What does the new technology do?

  • Technology to optimise a ship’s route based on weather forecast data will enable commercial vessels fitted with the sail to cut greenhouse gas emission and operating costs as well as reducing fuel consumption.
  • The UN has said that shipping emits nearly 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, therefore worldwide efforts to decarbonise the sector are crucial to meeting climate targets.
  • The rigid wingsail is entirely manufactured in Scotland from 100% recycled materials, and Smart Green Shipping has progressed the project with input from other Scottish engineering companies including Caley Ocean Systems and Malin.
  • The First Minister raised the 20-metre FastRig wingsail for the first time at Smart Green Shipping’s test site at Hunterston Parc alongside Founder and Chief Executive Diane Gilpin.

The First Minister said:

“Smart Green Shipping’s work on their impressive FastRig technology is typical of the type of economic opportunity the just transition to net-zero affords Scotland – as the ideal test bed for new, green technology.

“Investment and new technology like this will enable companies based here to seize those opportunities, and help innovative businesses like Smart Green Shipping grow and thrive, both at home and across the world.

“By helping companies like Smart Green Shipping invest in innovation, we can drive growth, create jobs and increase productivity while driving the transition to net zero in the shipping sector.”

Founder and CEO of Smart Green Shipping Diane Gilpin said: 

“There are no other countries that support innovative climate technology companies at an early stage like Scotland.

"As a female-founded business building climate infrastructure it is notoriously hard to secure funding. The collaborative grant process with Scottish Enterprise not only unlocked investment but also opened up introductions to fantastic partners.

"Scotland saw the potential for wind-assist to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions for shipping and I look forward to repaying that belief in us by taking our technology to the world and making a real difference.”

South of Scotland Enterprise Chair Professor Russel Griggs said:

“We are delighted to see Smart Green Shipping set up in Scotland, with their headquarters based on the Crichton Estate in Dumfries.

“The Crichton was created thanks to funding from the shipping industry, and with the South of Scotland being the Natural Capital Innovation Zone for Scotland, it is the ideal location for Smart Green Shipping to take forward the transformational change required in the global shipping sector.”

Scottish Enterprise Managing Director of International Operations Reuben Aitken said:

“Scottish Enterprise’s new approach to working with companies includes our energy transition mission, which aims to accelerate technology innovation, supply chain capability and investment in manufacturing and key infrastructure.

"We first attracted Smart Green Shipping to Scotland at COP26 and it’s fitting that this next stage of development is on the banks of the Clyde as the FastRig is built and tested at Hunterston PARC.

“This project milestone anchors years of development, planning and collaboration with Scottish maritime engineering partners such as Malin and Caley Ocean Systems and is a critical stage for Smart Green Shipping as it physically demonstrates its technology that aims to reduce emissions for global shipping.

"Smart Green Shipping’s investment in Scotland is testament to the supportive environment we offer inward investors as we help businesses to innovate and scale to transform the economy.”