Is The Future Of Sea Freight In The Past?

With the maritime industry set to undergo one of the most substantial operational and technological shifts in a very long time, could we see a return of sail-based sea freight?

With the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) agreeing on a raft of new mandatory regulations set to cut the carbon emissions of the industry, innovative, drastic and unique measures are looking into an alternative to heavy fuel oils.

The sweeping effects aim to reduce the carbon emissions of shipping agents, freighters and ferries by 40 per cent by the year 2030.

There are several potential solutions sea freight can take, from the use of less polluting fossil fuels to electricity and hybrid energy cells. One unique solution takes us back to the very beginning of maritime cargo transport.

We Are Sailing

Sailing has been part of human history for as long as we have taken to the water but was dominant from roughly 1571 when sailing took over from oar-based boats to 1862 when steamships ruled the sea.

For small scale and more experimental sea logistics providers, it provides an emmission free option, albeit one that is heavily reliant on wind speed and direction, much like in the Age of Sail.

The advent of modern navigation technology, as well as solar power to generate clean energy, as well as the possibility of hybrid sail, which mixes sailing with an electric motor, could make it potentially feasible in the distant future.

In any respect, regardless of what path is taken by the industry, sea freight may look increasingly different over the next ten years as technology evolves.