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Largest U.S. biomass exporter to test sailing to reduce emissions

Wood pellets are widely used in European countries

MADISON, Wis. -- Enviva, the largest American exporter of biomass wood pellets that are widely used in Europe as sustainable wood bioenergy, will be partnering with one of its shipping partners to test adding sails as a shipping method to reduce carbon emissions in shipping these products.

Wood pellets are widely used in European countries as a sustainable substitute for energy sources like coal. But pellets also have come under some criticism due to the energy consumed in shipping them to the countries where they are used. They are also being used more extensively in Japan and some other Asian countries.

The shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines announced the partnership with Enviva to explore the “environmental benefits (and) commercial and operational feasibilities of various technologies”. The effort will include the “Wind Challenger”, a ship using a “hard sail” to “reduce emissions by harnessing wind energy”, according to Mitsui’s announcement.

Thomas Meth, Executive Vice-President of Enviva, said that the shipping effort was part of a broader plan by Enviva to become net carbon neutral by 2030.

The Wind Challenger plan grew out of research at the University of Tokyo that began in 2009. Mitsui O.S.K. has led further development of the project since 2018.

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