Could sailing ships replace fuel-powered container ships?

Sailing ships are back! Sure, many people have boats with sail, but now larger sailing ships are carrying cargo. Small cargo sailing ships can carry only about nine shipping containers whereas the largest container ships carry up to 20,000. A sailing ship is also slower than a fossil-fuel powered ship. However, the advantage of sail is it’s environmentally friendly. Modern shipping produces almost 3% of the world’s carbon-dioxide pollution. 

Besides the wind power, sailing ships use the natural ocean currents to propel them across the oceans. The Tres Freres is one small cargo ship with canvas sails already moving goods around the world by wind and sea power. Sailcargo is a Costa Rican company now building a fossil fuel-free sailing ship which will carry coffee, cacao, organic cotton, and turmeric to Canada, and will transport electric bicycles, barley, and hops on its return journey. Larger ships are in the planning stages with unusual sails. Columns of rotor sails pivot to catch the wind and propel the ship forward. Because wind and sea currents can be fickle, these ships might also have engines. Some sailing ships will use solar power too. About 40 companies in countries around the world are developing wind-powered or wind-assisted ships. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see more sustainable sailing ships on the ocean someday soon?

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