Winds of change for the shipping sector

19 Jun 2014

Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable route to help cut CO2 emissions in the shipping sector, according to Dr Michael Traut, a Research Associate from The University of Manchester.

The E-Ship 1 with its four Flettner rotors (Pic by Carschten)
The E-Ship 1 with its four Flettner rotors (Pic by Carschten)

Speaking at the ‘Shipping in Changing Climates: provisioning the future’ Conference in Liverpool today (Thursday), Dr Traut will present research that uses a new model to couple wind-power technologies with weather data to show how in theory, and with supporting incentives, wind energy could cut CO2 and fuel use by as much as 50% on smaller cargo vessels up to 5,000 dead weight tonnes. This would also have a knock-on impact of cutting sulphur and nitrogen oxide and dioxide emissions by reducing the total amount of fuel burnt.

The study, to be presented in a session entitled ‘Future Shipping Propulsion’, will be discussed alongside presentations from more than 30 other speakers from across academia and the shipping industry. All the speakers will be exploring new issues and opportunities on the horizon for the industry in meeting the challenges faced by climate change.

The conference, sponsored by Lloyd’s Register and Shell, is integral to an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC) and industry-funded consortium project, and will bring together an audience made up of industrialists, policymakers and academics to debate how climate change may impact on the shipping sector worldwide.

The Shipping in Changing Climates project combines expertise from two substantial existing shipping research projects with two additional research partners.

Project lead Professor Paul Wrobel, from UCL, said: “Our vision is to create an enduring, multi-disciplinary and independent research community strongly linked to industry and capable of informing the policy making process by developing new knowledge and understanding of the shipping system, its energy efficiency and emissions, and its transition to a low carbon, more resilient future.”

Held during the International Festival for Business 2014 (IFB) in Liverpool this month, within their Maritime, Logistics and Energy (MLE) programme, the conference will explore the technological, operational, demand and supply-side changes needed to deliver a secure and resilient low-carbon shipping system. It will also raise questions on how climate change policies and impacts in other sectors – such as cutting the carbon intensity of electricity – might influence patterns of trade and the demand for shipping. As well as academic talks, the conference will host speakers from Shell, Lloyds Register, BMT, the International Chamber of Shipping, Maersk and CE Delft.

Dr Alice Bows-Larkin, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester and one of the lead academics in the ‘Shipping in Changing Climates’ consortium, said: “Climate change will influence the future of all sectors and shipping is no exception. More long-term strategic thinking will be required if the shipping sector is to proactively rise to the challenges faced. We hope that this conference will give academics, industrialists and policymakers a space to explore the opportunities and barriers to change.”

The International Festival for Business (IFB) 2014 is the largest global concentration of business events during 2014. Maritime Logistics and Energy is a themed programme organised by Mersey Maritime and Shipping Innovation. 

Dr Bows-Larkin added: “With Liverpool and the North West region reviving its proud maritime legacy, now is the perfect time to embed the climate change agenda within future plans.”


Notes for editors

The conference will run at the Hilton Hotel from 18 to 19 June. More details can be found at:

The International Festival of Business is running in June and July in Liverpool. See for more details.

Maritime, Logistics and Energy is a programme within the International Festival of Business, beginning on June 9th with a series of themed events celebrating the sector regionally, nationally and internationally, see for more details

Press can register for free by contacting 

Shipping in Changing Climates is an EPSRC and Industry funded consortium project that began in December 2013. For more details see and

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research brings together researchers from eight universities in the UK and Fudan University in China. Scientists, economists, engineers, and social scientists work within the research community as well as with business leaders, policy advisors, the media, and the public to develop sustainable responses to climate change. See Tyndall Manchester is a core partner of the Tyndall Centre based in the School of Mechanical Civil and Aerospace Engineering at The University of Manchester. See and for more information.

Photo by Hochgeladen von Carschten (Source: Wikipedia)

For further information contact:

Aeron Haworth
Senior Media Relations Officer
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8387
Mob: 07717 881563