The network Sailcargo, originally registered in Canada, is building a three-masted cargo sailing ship in the jungles of Costa Rica. That sounds as eccentric as Fitzcarraldo’s plan to pull a ship through the jungle. And yet it is not a Werner Herzog movie, but a real Kickstarter project. A CO2-negative cargo ship is to emerge. For this project, tropical timber seems a better material than steel. Costa Rica as a shipyard location was deliberately chosen because the government there is on the point of making the entire country climate-neutral by 2021.
In order not to be entirely dependent on wind, the wooden sailing ship called CEIBA will have an electric engine as an alternative drive powered by a battery that is charged exclusively via onboard solar collectors, wind turbines and wave energy generators. This will make the electric sailing ship completely self-sufficient. Twice a year, the CEIBA is to sail the Pacific coast of Caldera / Costa Rica via various stopovers to Victoria / Canada and back.
For world trade improvers
But how does Sailcargo want to earn money with a 45-meter-long sailing ship that can carry just 250 tons of freight? Obviously, CEIBA should rather be seen as a feasibility study: its goal is to prove that freight can be transported from one continent to another without emissions by breaking, at least, even.
Customers could be companies that produce and sell products sustainably and fairly. After all, what use is the most sustainably grown cocoa or coffee, if lots of CO2 is being produced during the transport on a conventional container ship to the consumer countries. Transport across the oceans regularly tears a hole in the chain of goods that are, otherwise, consistently produced sustainably. This severely penalizes exotic goods against locally produced in the eyes of particularly environmentally conscious consumers. It is exactly this gap in the sustainability chain that Sailcargo tries to close with the ship project CEIBA. The emission-free enjoyment of exotic goods could be possible soon, at least in North America.
However, the emission-free transport on the high-tech cargo ship is costly: estimated is a price per ton and nautical mile, which is approximately 20 times higher than the transport with a conventional container giant. That sounds like a lot. But converted to a pound of coffee, it means only about 1 euro net more. This price is likely to find enough buyers in North America. Especially since the typical buyer of organic, Fairtrade, sustainability products is usually better trained and therefore income-rich.
According to Sailcargo, CEIBA will start out chic, small and exclusive, but will gain in size and significance as an alternative and sustainable freight concept for offshore transport – the prerequisite is the success of CEIBA.