Atradius Dutch State Business (DSB) has secured an investment loan provided by ABN Amro to maritime scale-up Econowind for the development of industrial sails. So-called Ventifoils enable shipowners to reduce emissions, comply with international regulations and save significant costs.

The secured investment loan will enable Econowind to focus on leasing the sails in addition to sales. This will allow shipowners to have low-threshold access to this green technology.

The facility for Econowind is the first green cover for Atradius Dutch State Business, a new type of insurance launched to promote sustainable exports and enable early-stage technology development. With the EUR 3.5 million investment loan from ABN AMRO and cover from Atradius DSB, Econowind will continue the technological development of sails to meet demand, including for larger models.

Econowind can also now lease the Ventifoils to shipowners. Econowind’s goal is to eventually equip as many ships as possible around the world with this technology. Atradius DSB is covering at least the first ten Ventifoils leased with this transaction, a target that could easily be met as early as next year.

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Econowind was founded in 2016 by entrepreneur Frank Nieuwenhuis in collaboration with design firm Conoship. The first Ventifoils were commissioned by Van Dam Shipping and shipping company Boomsma in 2020 after the test phase, and since then Econowind has had several orders.

The Ventifoils are foldable industrial sails that can be easily mounted on cargo ships in various ways; by means of a flatrack, container or fixed. The Ventifoils deliver fuel savings while sailing for seventy per cent of the time. The fuel savings amount to six to eight per cent depending on the vessel, wind conditions and speeds, according to Nieuwenhuis.

‘All shipowners and shipbuilders will have to invest in green technology,’ says Nieuwenhuis. ‘Besides tighter regulations from next year that will tax CO2, there is an added urgency thanks to high fuel prices. With Ventifoils, we want to make greening accessible to shipowners without large investments. Thanks to a personal connection with the sailing world, I have continued to believe in the potential of wind power on an industrial scale. With this vision, we have invested a lot of time and money in our technology in recent years and are very happy that with this coverage and funding we can now step up to scale-up and further develop our technology on a large scale.’

Also read: Schram Shipping orders wind-assist installations from eConowind

Financially attractive investment

Ed van Aalst, Relationship Manager, ABN Amro Maritime, adds: ‘Econowind offers a solution that has a direct effect on fuel savings and therefore directly on CO2 emissions. We do not yet know what kind of fuel the ship of the future will run on but it is clear that propulsion by wind will always make a positive contribution. As a financier, we would like to contribute to the transition to cleaner ships and it is great to see that through the involvement of Atradius Dutch State Business, transactions can be made that would otherwise fall outside our risk profile.’

‘Dutch shipping is in great need of technology that will future-proof shipowners and their fleets,’ concludes Heleen Quint, Senior Export Credit Specialist, Atradius Dutch State Business. ‘We are happy, as an export credit insurer, to help make this possible while also keeping such an investment financially attractive for shipowners by being able to lease the Ventifoils. It is innovative financial solutions like these that are needed to boost the greening of the maritime industry.’

Picture: Ventifoil in container on board Lady Christina (by Flying Focus/Econowind).

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