The coronavirus pandemic decreased revenues obtained by the global cruise ship industry. Now some critics wonder how much time will transpire until leading cruise lines embrace the next generation of eco-friendly maritime technology? Chantiers de l’Antique, a French shipyard, has invested extensive time and resources seeking to develop sail panels as a “green” technology for ocean vessels.


Sail Panels to Help Power Ships


The sail panels developed by Chantiers de l’Antique remain in the testing phase. Composed of fiberglass and carbon, they will operate in tandem with wind turbines and an engine. The innovative system reportedly helps ships lower fossil fuel emissions by as much as 50%. The French shipyard debuted the sail panels in an exhibit at the Miami Seatrade Cruise Exhibition during 2018 and 2019.


The design team developed the sail panels to function in conjunction with masts capable of tilting and even rotating. This flexibility permits vessels relying on sail panel power to navigate more easily beneath bridges and through narrow waterways. Its developers believe this high-tech system may eventually serve both cruise lines and the “superyachts” marketplace.


Preliminary Testing


Sailor Jean Le Cam has recently participated in the sail panel testing process. The developers have created some preliminary ship designs, including one for a “Silenseas” vessel measuring some 200 meters in length. The huge cruise vessel sports three customized masts capable of utilizing sail panels. MSC Cruises has reportedly already agreed to work with Chantiers de l’Atlantique in the development of sail-powered cruise ships.


Reportedly, the testing phase will progress in a series of steps during the next few years. The design team envisions at least a decade of preliminary tests. Initially, the team equipped a J80 racing sailboat with innovative sail panels. This fall, they plan to expand the system onto a ship with a 38-foot mast. By 2022, they hope to conduct testing of a much larger 95-meter mast equipped with panel sails.


An Environmentally Responsible Technology


Will the development of “green” technologies for the cruise ship industry eventually assist efforts to combat Global Warming? Experts caution the utilization of sail panels by cruise vessels may still lie years in the future. This innovation inspires widespread interest!