Wallenius Wilhelmsen's Orcelle Wind project wins Heyerdahl Award 2023 –Wind power rocks the boat

Wallenius Wilhelmsen is proud to announce that our ground-breaking Orcelle Wind project has been awarded the esteemed Heyerdahl Award 2023. The award was presented by Thor Heyerdahl Jr. at the Norwegian Shipowners' Association's annual conference in Oslo on March 21.


The Heyerdahl Award

Established in 1999 by Thor Heyerdahl and the Norwegian Shipowners' Association, The Heyerdahl Award is presented biennially to candidates from the maritime industry who demonstrate innovation or technology development that contributes to a better global environment.

This year’s Expert Committee recognized the Orcelle Wind project for its potential to revolutionize emission-free shipping by harnessing the power of wind. They believe that by utilizing wind power, an energy source with no climate footprint, our project can make a significant impact on the future of shipping.

Thor Heyerdahl Jr. expressed his appreciation for the project, stating that his father would have been delighted to see Orcelle Wind receive the maritime environmental award carrying his name. He said: “My father crossed all three world oceans with prehistoric vessels, wooden rafts, and reed boats, with no other means of propulsion than what nature gave him with wind and current. And it was completely emission-free, without leaving a trace!” He continued, “As his son and as an oceanographer, I know he would have been very happy about this award.”

Orcelle wind

The Orcelle Wind Project

The Orcelle Wind project is a testament to our commitment to shaping the green transition to zero-emission.
Orcelle Wind is the first ship conceptualized out of the Oceanbird concept. Jon Tarjei Kråkenes, Head of the Orcelle Accelerator explained “Before, Wallenius had developed the Oceanbird concept for several years, with technical studies and wind optimization studies,” he continued “the Orcelle Wind project however, has been ongoing since late 2020 when we, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, signed an agreement with Wallenius to work together to develop the Wallenius concept Oceanbird into a real-life vessel.”

Orcelle Wind is designed to be to be a wind-powered car and truck carrier. At 220 meters long, the ship will have the capacity to hold over 7,000 cars. We aim to achieve up to 90% reduced emissions on a single voyage compared to today's most efficient vessels. We plan to start testing on an existing ship by 2024.
In addition to receiving the Heyerdahl Award 2023, the project was also recently recognised by the EU Orcelle Horizon which pledged its support with a €9 million investment.
Not least, we have also signed a Letter of Intent with Mercedes Benz cementing our partnership and commitment to the project.

The need for innovation

The project is still a research & development project with several technical and operational studies ongoing. Two key milestones are coming up in the near future: a one-wing test-rig on land will be completed at end of this year, followed by a similar one-wing test-rig onboard one of our existing vessels mid next year.

Jon Tarjei added “Both these demonstrators will add insight and competence which will be brought into the final stage of the project with the ambition to have the Orcelle Wind set sail within 2027.”

Paul-Christian Rieber, Head of the Expert Committee, shared his perspective on the award, stating, "If we are to succeed in developing emission-free shipping, we need shipping companies that make brave choices and dare to take the lead in developing this type of technology. When many industries are to compete for green energy, wind will undoubtedly have to be part of the energy mix in the future of emission-free shipping."

In a joint effort with our partners and customers, the Orcelle Wind project sails ahead in the hopes of orchestrating change for a more sustainable future.

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