The winds of innovation are blowing through Marfret. As part of our commitment to energy transition, we have fitted one of our ships with 21st-century sails. Four aluminium sails, in fact, will provide power to the Marfret Niolon as it is borne by the trade winds on the MPV service.

Using the force of the wind – a clean, free and infinite source of energy – for assistance on the sea was the subject of a months-long study, which led to Marfret equipping the Marfret Niolon with four wing-shaped sails to improve its energy efficiency. “We’re excited to explore new solutions and this energy source, which is expected to provide fuel savings of between 10 and 15% on our MPV shipping line” boasts Guillaume Vidil, Managing Director of Marfret.

Launched late 2020, the MPV service now sails its French Guiana – Pointe-à-Pitre – Antwerp – Le Havre route, and also connects with Marfret’s Ferrymar service in the West Indies. The MPV shipping line is up to cruising speed, operating with a capacity of 1,212 linear metres. It carries sensitive freight, in particular from the West Indies, for which there are currently no local storage and processing solutions.

The Marfret Niolon fitted with four aluminium sails that will provide fuel savings of 10-15%

Because Marfret is committed to a decarbonised shipping industry, the company opted for the technology developed by the Dutch firm eConowind: ““We firmly believe in the future of containerisation and energy and that’s what led us to opt for this solution.” The wing-sails are easy to deploy and are stored in a 40’ container, enabling great adaptability as the wings can easily be transferred from one ship to another. “All the ingenuity of the container, the foundation of our business, has here been applied to a system to assist the ship’s propulsion,” points out Guillaume Vidil.

Inside, the control system and hydraulics deploy the sails and retract them on entering port. The quartermaster on the bridge decides when to automatically raise or lower the sails, depending on wind and angle.

Marfret intends to extend the system to its entire roro fleet, combining it with coupled reversible alternators, providing hybrid wind and electric power. “We are ready to invest in our energy transition and develop our position as a company apart from the rest,” insists Vidil. As the world begins to grasp the challenges of climate change, Marfret intends to play a role in the collective effort.


Bruno Julius

Directeur of Guadeloupe Agency, MARFRET