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Oceans and fisheries
News article21 December 2022Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Going with the wind

Aspiring Wingsails project

Maritime and fisheries industry increasingly needs to adapt to higher fuel costs and new regulations to reduce harmful emissions. The Aspiring Wingsails project developed, tested and validated a wind propulsion system (eSAIL®) that reduces the fuel use and pollutant emission of fishing vessels. The project received funding under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). It can benefit not only the European fishing industry, but the European maritime transport industry as a whole

eSail® - A promising technology tested on a real fishing vessel

In June 2021, the Spanish start-up bound4blue coordinating the project, together with project partner Kyma (Norway) and Organización de Palangreros de A Guarda (ORPAGU- Spain), successfully installed a 12-metre eSAIL® on the “Balueiro Segundo” vessel as well as a monitoring system to monitor the fuel savings.

The eSail® uses a rigid sail and wind suction. How does that work? The eSail®, rigid and cylindrical in shape, sucks the wind, which re-adheres the airflow to the sail, generating lift with low drag: this type of sail produces 6-7 times more lift than a conventional one, with minimal energy consumption and without mechanical complexity.

Test and validation were done by installing a full-scale unit on a fishing vessel. The Balueiro Segundo began sailing in early June 2021, becoming the first fishing vessel in the world to be equipped with an auxiliary wind-assisted propulsion technology and also the first vessel to install bound4blue’s eSAIL® technology.

Two fishing trips were carried out as sea trials along the standard operation of the vessel, and the project measured the energy savings.

A more competitive and sustainable maritime industry

The tests demonstrated that the wingsail – as it has been continuously improved throughout the project - can result in double digit percentages of fuel savings for the fishing industry. But the advantages go beyond this sector, as the solution is also suitable for merchant and passenger vessels. Therefore, the project can have benefits not only for the European fishing industry, but for the European maritime transport industry as a whole.

José Miguel Bermúdez Miquel (CEO and co-founder, bound4blue) says:

This installation on the "Balueiro Segundo" test vessel represents a great milestone for the company, as a first step towards future installations on larger ships and in different segments, such as tankers, bulk carriers, Ro-Ro or general cargo ships. Our eSAIL® system is fully scalable; we are already manufacturing a 17-meter-high unit, fully tiltable, which will be installed on a general cargo ship shortly, and we have also projected larger sails which are about to start being manufactured. Having active collaboration with ship owners and institutions as catalysts for innovation, such as ORPAGU and the European Union through their support to the Aspiring Wingsails project, has been absolutely key to making this happen.

On top of this positive environmental impact for the maritime industry, the project resulted in an increased employment rate of 23% of the bound4blue employees compared to when the company started the project.

The EMFF fund, which supported the demonstration of the wingsail solution, also helped bound4blue to secure blended finance from the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator programme. The project also very positively impacted the attraction of investment and technology and business development. During the last months of the project and right after its completion, bound4blue signed two additional new contracts with high-level European ship owners from the Netherlands and France.

A contribution for climate neutrality

By increasing the energy efficiency in shipping, Aspiring Wingsails project supports the EU goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. It contributes to the EU’s Sustainable Blue Economy strategy and the EU Green Deal. It can help reduce the carbon footprint of the European maritime transport sector and increase its competitiveness, leading to the creation of direct and indirect jobs.

More information

Aspiring Wingsails




Publication date
21 December 2022
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries