Center for Post Carbon Logistics NYC Blue Highways RFEI Response

As a result of the Center’s mission and the recent RFEI from New York City regarding Maritime transport, it is appropriate that the Center respond with a statement of how our efforts already support these objectives, and how the City can meet or exceed their goals by looking outside their own borders. A focus on Regional Marine Services as defined in the RFEI will do the most to meet the City’s goal of using marine highways, cycle-trucks, and a working waterfront to tackle roadway congestion, improve safety, and reduce the ecological impact of the City’s economy. The response is available here.

OVERALL CONTEXT

The causes and consequences of climate change are well understood and described in great detail elsewhere, therefore this document will not focus on these effects and threats as such. The context of this response reflects a larger systems view of regional marine services and the potential for marine movement of goods and people; one which looks at more than the trucks coming into the NYC roadways, but those simply passing through as well. The City’s objectives are unlikely to be met by simply working within its own borders, due to the geography involved. The City reaching outside its own borders to improve life in the metro area is not novel: The preservation of farm and other conservation land in the Catskills in order to protect the City’s water supply is a prime example of this type of extra-mural work which the City has engaged in for over a century.

The costs of overcrowded roadways are extremely high, as acknowledged in the RFEI. By diverting as much trade as possible off the roadways and onto the water, these costs can be significantly reduced. As New York has some of the most congested roadways in the United States, it is imperative to relieve this pressure. Any reduction in truck miles traveled reduces emissions as well as congestion, and reduced congestion leads to reduced emissions per vehicle.

For example, reducing truck miles and emissions in the New York Metro Area (NYMA) hinges on a significant geographical junction which sits in the middle of the NYMA: Long Island is only accessible by roads going through New York City, via the Queens Expressway Bridge from the North or East, or across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge from the West and South. By creating and subsidizing the use of coastal trade from New Jersey to ports along the shores of Long Island, a significant amount of trucking miles could be avoided on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, while a series of ferries from Southern New England and the Hudson Valley to Long Island would similarly reduce truck traffic on New York’s highways. Connections between Boston and Philadelphia on sailing container vessels could remove hundreds of trucks per day, as could similar zero-emissions coastal services which bring trade around, as opposed to through, the city’s highways and bridges.

Even to allow for deliveries within the City’s boundaries, outer-ring hubs for modal shift should be encouraged in the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The farther out the cargo switches, the lower the roadway congestion will be and the lower the climate forcing emissions. This will also reduce congestion at the peripheries of the city, allowing for freer movement and higher air quality for all the Metro Area’s citizens, particularly in disadvantaged areas. The more points of embarkation for cargo outside the city, the more resilient and emissions efficient the entire system will be.

By expanding the available pool of ports which might be used for freight trans-shipping the overall impact on New York’s roadway congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and quality of life can be enhanced. While initial constructions may be sited in close proximity to the City, creating an expanding network over the next few years is an economically beneficial plan which can alleviate the significant problems the City is now facing. In cooperation with State-Level initiatives to revitalize the New York State Canal System, full-length maritime connections can be restored to the Champlain Valley, Central and Western New York, and the Great Lakes, creating amplified benefits to the state as a whole.

One of the greatest advantages of this plan of action is that it can be implemented immediately and with little investment or administrative overhead: Simply creating a program to pay for trucks to travel free-to-operator on a number of existing ferries will immediately divert traffic as this is advertised. This increase in business for ferry companies will create an incentive to increase their capacity on existing routes. As the success of such a pilot program grows, other routes and ports can be deployed and put into service. With a coherent regional plan to create mutual advantage, a large-scale maritime sector can be revived in the New Jersey-New York-Connecticut corridor. The response is available here.

Wind and Water Could Usher in a New ‘Intermodal’ for Post-Carbon Freight

Originally published in Supply Chain Brain Helen Atkinson, Managing Editor

Wind and Water Could Usher in a New ‘Intermodal’ for Post-Carbon Freight

Schooner Apollonia in New York Harbor, Photo: Schooner Apollonia

A greater adoption of waterborne freight, powered by low-carbon energy alternatives, could take the industry into a future where freight is no longer a sustainability pariah

A reversion to wind power for oceangoing vessels, at least as an assist, has been championed for decades, and could certainly help. But there are other plans afoot, and favoring waterborne over road is the way forward for the freight industry in general, according to Andrew Willner, executive director at The Center for Post Carbon Logistics.  

Ships Could Take Freight Off the Roads

The new, sustainable version of “intermodal” could mean combining road and rail with coastal and inland water whenever possible. Willner even envisions the emergence of a new class of freight service provider, a low-carbon third-party logistics provider, or LC3PL.

The stated mission of The Center for Post Carbon Logistics is to research and assist in the implementation of appropriate post-carbon maritime technology needed to keep commerce and transportation viable in a “carbon-constrained” world. 

It has its work cut out for it. American commerce remains addicted to trucking — the number of trucks on the road has relentlessly increased, from just over 4.5 million in 1970 to nearly 13.5 million in 2020, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Worse, BTS says long-haul freight truck traffic on the National Highway System is projected to increase from 311 million miles per day in 2015 to 488 million miles per day by 2045. Ozone and fine particulate matter from vehicle emissions in 2016 led to an estimated 7,100 premature deaths in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The cost isn’t just bad air quality and heat domes. An average of 5,000 people a year are killed in crashes involving large trucks, a death toll that has soared by almost 50% since 2011, according to the non-profit news service ProPublica. Tens of thousands more have been injured.

Real Possibilities, Many Obstacles

Taking freight off the roads is not only desirable for multiple reasons; it is also attractively feasible. 

A great example: The Hudson River, which is navigable by cargo ships with a draft of up to 29 feet from New York City, up the densely populated Hudson Valley, to the state capital of Albany and beyond. At present, one sees only the occasional heating oil or project cargo barge, pushed by tugboats, lumbering up and down the river. But 100 years ago, this mighty waterway, which connects via a huge system of canals to the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, was one of the main cargo arteries of North America. 

Then, of course, river traffic was powered by coal, contributing to life-threatening pollution, not just CO2 emissions. Today, it’s possible to haul up to 24 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo via ready-to-build “electric clippers,” which combine wind, solar and battery power, reaching speeds up to 10 knots. 

Add in human-electric powered cargo tricycles, or “trikes” for last-mile delivery, and there’s an opportunity to reach tens of millions of consumers within a day without a single diesel-powered truck in sight.

So far, there is only one maverick vessel attempting to achieve this vision: the 64-foot-long Schooner Apollonia, which since 2020 has been transporting cargo on the Hudson River and in greater New York Harbor by wind, current, and tide alone. 

Willner says a large obstacle in the way of a post-carbon freight future that favors water wherever possible is a reluctance to embrace both new and old technologies – not just sail, but solar, battery, methane and biofuel. With a shift in thinking, Willner sees an opportunity to move massive amounts of medium-range freight deliveries, in particular, off roads and onto waterways. 

But a lack of vision is only part of the problem; there are also the tough realities of economics. U.S. roads are built and maintained with $204 billion in government funds per year (more than is spent on police), but rail freight infrastructure and waterways receive nothing. “If this had the same subsidies we have to ship by road, we could do this next week,” Willner says.

Chart: Union Pacific

Land Ahoy!

The trick to making waterborne freight vessels viable is to connect them with low-carbon land-based transport at both ends. Recent changes in consumer habits open new opportunities. The growth of e-commerce, which generally trends toward smaller deliveries, means alternatives to full-size trucks — small enough to be run on something other than an internal combustion engine — are very attractive. 

UPS is successfully combining human and electric power by deploying tricycles (UPS Cargo Cruisers and Cyclo Cargos, which are both conventional and electrically assisted) in Hamburg, Dublin and Munich, and is testing this concept in other European cities. A UPS spokesperson says these tricycles are ideal for navigating dense, highly trafficked areas, delivering from container depots in the middle of the delivery area in each city. As such, they replace delivery trucks to reduce congestion and carbon emissions, and can even operate in pedestrian zones. 

Another example is Austrian logistics firm Gebrüder Weiss, which announced in August that it’s using electric tricycles for deliveries to private homes and companies located on the Croatian islands of Rab and Lošinj. 

But progress in adopting low-carbon, short-haul freight vehicles in the U.S., compared to Europe and Asia, is slow. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced in May that it’s testing a four-wheeled, battery-powered pedal assist cargo bike it intends to deploy later this summer on bike lanes and other roadway projects in New York City. But these and other projects remain small-scale and tentative. They also tend to focus, understandably, on densely populated areas where the last-mile could be a few hundred yards. That explains, at least partly, why Europe is ahead — population density in the EU is 300 persons per square mile, versus 81 persons in the U.S. All the same, pilot programs are delivering hopeful results.

“When it comes to the U.S., we’re looking to our extensive urban solutions network outside the U.S. as potential blueprints for reimagining our industry here,” the UPS spokesperson says. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to sustainable last-mile deliveries in busy city centers. Every city has different challenges and requirements, and we are taking the learnings from our previous projects as we continue to explore various innovative urban logistics solutions to best serve our customers while working alongside cities, state and federal government partners.”

Future-Proof Liberty Ships

Willner looks forward to a proliferation of the Electric Clippers, and cites various compelling advantages of the ships, aside from their low-carbon profile. First, they’re American built. That means they can ply not only international routes, but also qualify under the U.S. Jones Act, which requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. They can, therefore, deliver freight between U.S. coastal destinations (and inland ones too). Willner calls them “future-proof Liberty ships.”

Further, one of the caveats of electric-powered vehicles, even if the electricity is generated by “clean” sources, is that lithium-ion batteries are problematic in multiple ways, including difficulties with safe disposal, and raw materials coming from questionable sources. But the old, lead-acid batteries are four or five times heavier, and on other forms of transport tip the scales against efficiency and therefore sustainability. However, they’re more than welcome on a ship, Willner points out. “We want the ballast!”

Meanwhile, Back at Sea

Large, oceangoing freight vessels with sails seem to be actually becoming a commercial reality. According to The Conversation, Japanese bulk carrier MOL is operating a wind-assisted ship. American food giant Cargill is working with Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie to deploy WindWings on its routes. Swedish container line Wallenius is aiming for Oceanbird to cut emissions by up to 90%. The French start-up Zephyr & Borée has built the Canopée, which will transport parts of European Space Agency’s Ariane 6 rocket this year. 

In January 2021, the London-based International Windship Association and its 150-plus members declared a Decade of Wind Propulsion.” Association secretary Gavin Allwright says the initiative, after a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now getting wind in its sails. There are currently 23 large ships — including two very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – fitted with some form of wind propulsion. More importantly, Allwright says, it took 12 years to get to 23; the number will double in the next 12 months.

And sometimes, the old ways offer a fresh alternative. The BBC reports that Dutch company Ecoclipper in June ran a voyage on a 1912 traditional two-mast Dutch sail barge, carrying mixed loads that included cheese, wine and olive oil, from Amsterdam to Porto in Portugal and back again, with stops in Spain, France and England. Chief executive Jorne Langelaan told the BBC he hopes to build a fleet of up to 25 wind-powered cargo ships in the future, utilizing the latest design technology, and capable of carrying 700 metric tons of cargo, at a cost in the region of €9 million ($9.85 million) each. A greater use of wind-powered freight is the only way long-distance transport and travel will remain feasible in the future, Langelaan said. “The big goal of Ecoclipper is to connect the continents [with] emission-free cargo shipping.”

Andrus Sustainable Logistics Fellowship Update

Please support the Sustainable Logistics Fellow and the important work of the Center for Post Carbon Logistics with a contribution.

Highlights from the Andrus Fellowship to date: June – November 2023

Captain Sam Merrett and “Supercargo” Brad Vogel aboard the Schooner Apollonia

Inaugural Andrus Fellow Brad Vogel has spent six busy months working to both:

  1. tangibly grow the regional sustainable logistics network and
  2. strategize/collaborate for future growth of that network in the greater Hudson Valley and greater New York Harbor regions.

While the Fellowship’s focus continues to center on the waterborne sustainable sail freight route run by the Schooner Apollonia, it also encompassed significant shore-side and ship-to-shore elements designed to increase multi-modal linkages for moving goods while optimizing to reduce or eliminate carbon-based emissions.

Tangibly Growing the Regional Sustainable Logistics Network – On-Water

Route Map

Additional routes where sustainable low/no carbon transport of goods to and/or from a new port of call via sail freight shipping (wind, tide and current powered) was made possible through the planning, coordination, and logistical efforts of the Andrus Fellow:

  1. Direct Sail Freight Service to/from New Ports (connecting existing Schooner Apollonia network): West Haverstraw, NY, Dobbs Ferry, NY, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Greenpoint, Brooklyn Gowanus, Brooklyn Hoboken, NJ.
  2. On-Ship Sail Freight Service to New Ports (on-shipping from an existing Apollonia docking site): Rockaways, Queens (via the schooner Deliverance from Red Hook, Brooklyn)
  3. On-Ship Sail Freight Service from New Ports (on-shipping from to existing Apollonia ports): St. Malo, Brittany, France (via the schooner Grain de Sail I to all Apollonia ports)

These expansions of sail freight service opened new port nodes and made it possible for businesses, organizations, and individuals in those ports to participate in the existing Schooner Apollonia sail freight network, which has now expanded to include approximately 30 proven ports of call, as well as an international sail freight linkage via the French company Grain de Sail.

Tangibly Growing the Regional Sustainable Logistics Network – Shoreside

A key part of the Fellow’s mission is to expand shoreside linkages to and from the water’s edge that are more sustainable than baseline fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Replacing links in the network in New York that ties into the existing Schooner Apollonia riverine network helps to “green the branches out from the trunk” that has been established.

  1. Germantown to Hudson electric truck Shore Angel
  2. Ossining dock to brewery EV convoy of Shore Angels
  3. Clinton Corners to Poughkeepsie EV Shore Angels
  4. Kingston to Poughkeepsie Shore Angel Poughkeepsie dock to breweries EV Shore Angels
  5. Newburgh dock to brewery cargo bike route
  6. West Haverstraw dock to brewery cargo bike route
  7. Marine Park Brooklyn to Brooklyn Bridge Park EV Shore Angel
  8. Coxsackie to Hudson EV Shore Angel
  9. Gowanus to Brooklyn Bridge Park cargo bike
  10. Vulture Carter Long Island City to Greenpoint cargo bike
  11. Vulture Carter Greenpoint dock to brewery and restaurant cargo bike route
  12. Gowanus to Red Hook cargo bike Vulture Carter
  13. Red Hook to Gowanus cargo bike
  14. Vulture Carter Brooklyn Navy Yard to Greenpoint cargo bike
  15. cargo bike route Brooklyn Bridge Park to Red Hook

Proving these potential replacement means/conveyances even in a pilot mode helps to build the muscle memory, institutional memory, and community necessary to further develop and make the more sustainable methods permanent. Cargo bikes and trailers, a collective of cargo bike enthusiasts, a biodiesel truck, and a variety of electric vehicle drivers all contributed to building out these links, many of them falling under the Shore Angel volunteer program developed by the Fellow in coordination with the Schooner Apollonia team.

Diversifying, Expanding Cargoes Carried by Regional Sail Freight & Shoreside Network

Growing and proving new potential cargoes as suitable for transport within the existing/growing sustainable shipping network in the region is another ongoing goal of the Fellow. The following cargo types moved through the regional sustainable shipping system centered on Schooner Apollonia for the first time in 2023 due to the Fellow’s efforts:

Cross Branding

  1. Lumber
  2. Sunflower oil
  3. Kegs of beer
  4. Cheese
  5. Cutting boards
  6. Compost soil
  7. Air compressors
  8. Rowboats
  9. Bat boxes
  10. Nuts
  11. Black currant juice
  12. Field salt
  13. Sail cloth
  14. Meat sticks
  15. Kelp paper
  16. Granola
  17. Upcycled soap
  18. Soda
  19. Bread bricks
  20. Norwegian crackers
  21. Dried black currants
  22. Compost inputs
  23. Double sail freight coffee
  24. Marinara sauce

Wind Shipped

Demonstrating the ability of the system to move goods (whether as a new typology/form or as a new market segment) successfully helps to facilitate further future growth of cargoes in those categories. Broadening the conception of what goods “work” provides a beach head for new prospective shipping partners who may not have seen themselves as eligible or relevant previously.

Planning for Regional Linkages to International Sustainable Shipping Ventures

Connecting the existing regional sustainable shipping network into the growing global network of international sustainable shipping is a continuing priority for the Fellow. The following efforts went into building greater linkages and helping to anticipate expected increases in interconnection at the Port of NY and NJ.

  1. Grain de Sail – Multiple meetings, correspondence, and collaborations with Matthieu and Pierre from French sail freight company Grain de Sail regarding growing cargo on-shipping, developing backhaul cargo for Grain de Sail II.
  2. Timbercoast – In-depth correspondence with Cornelius and Torsten from Timbercoast out of Germany regarding first-ever sail freight docking logistics at New York in early 2024 for the ship Avontuur.
  3. VELA – Meeting and correspondence with Michael from the VELA team regarding NY Harbor/NJ coordination and mutual growth of cargoes with the French sail freight venture.
  4. TOWT – Communications with Guillaume from TOWT regarding schedule of upcoming port calls to NYC.
  5. Sail Cargo – Discussions with Alejandra at Sail Cargo regarding docking, cargo, and logistics engagement opportunities with New Jersey ports, backhaul cargo to South America.
  6. International Wind Ship Alliance – Discussions with Gavin from the International Windship Alliance regarding overall uptake on wind shipping, policy, and attendance at meeting of IWSA North America chapter.
  7. Wind Support NYC – Meetings with Laurent and Laurent regarding international sail freight engagement with New York Harbor, as well as the need for a green shipping incubator pier in NYC.
  8. Christiaan de Beukeler – Met with author of Trade Winds book, conversations regarding international sail freight.

Consultation/Planning on Decarbonizing Goods Transport Systems

The Fellowship provided a public-facing position that community members sought out for more thought and leadership on decarbonizing systems and the movement of goods across a wide range of spaces. The following list is illustrative and not comprehensive; there have been many, many instances where the role has helped to focus, catalyze, or advance ideas for decarbonizing transport of goods at multiple levels.

  1. REV X – Ongoing discussions seeking opportunities to utilize cargo bike/pedicab transport services in New York City.
  2. Merchants of Ellenville, NY – Discussions with Ulster County Economic Development and sustainability officials, as well as APA NY Metro Chapter leadership, regarding piggybacking freight usage of UCAT bus system to connect Kingston, Ellenville, and hamlets in between and obviating the need for multiple duplicative fossil fuel-powered vehicular trips.
  3. City of Kingston – Discussions with Julie Noble, sustainability lead, regarding the possibility of a ferry connecting Rhinecliff Amtrack station with Kingston (potentially chartering solar vessel Solaris) and the need for a connector trolley up from Rondout into rest of Kingston.
  4. Discussions with NY Harbor tug boat company contact about carbon limits and means of decarbonizing maritime systems.
  5. Creations Therrien – Discussions about finding alternate low carbon transport methods for live edge slabs for a furniture making company.
  6. Zuzu’s Petals – Discussions regarding decarbonizing compost disposal processes for a floral business.
  7. Principles GI Coffee House – Discussions and planning regarding decarbonizing delivery of baked goods on a daily basis via alternate means such as cargo bikes instead of fossil fuel-powered vans.

Brad on human electric bike

Development of Further Decarbonizing Systems

  1. Application for Grant – Park Slope Civic Council – Effort to grow and fund the Vulture Carting cooperative of cargo bike enthusiasts that have grown up at Principles GI Coffee House.
  2. Discussions with Pacific Northwest Individual regarding possible start of sail freight efforts in greater Puget Sound area.
  3. NYC Financial District – East Side Resiliency Plan – Attend meetings and provide input suggesting the creation/incorporation of a green shipping incubator pier in Lower Manhattan.
  4. Blue Highways RFEI – Speaking with multiple parties about the need to increase participation and engagement on the effort to transfer more freight to waterborne means in New York City with sustainable last mile.

Blue Highways Dock Prototype

Please support the Sustainable Logistics Fellow and the important work of the Center for Post Carbon Logistics with a contribution.

Introducing Brad Vogel, Erik Andrus Sustainable Logistics Fellow

You Made It Happen!
The Center for Post Carbon Logistics Achieves Fundraising Goal

Meet the Andrus Sustainable Logistics Fellow Apollonia Supercargo Brad Vogel. Brad has been at the forefront of developing an alternate green logistics framework in the NY region since 2019, and we are excited to see him going full time on the sustainable shipping and logistics front.  He will start the fellowship in June of this year.

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics (C4PCL)  has met its fundraising goal for the Erik Andrus Sustainability Fellowship.  So many of you helped make that happen – and the C4PCL, the Schooner Apollonia, and all the organizations and businesses that will benefit from Brad’s work, could not be more grateful!

Brad Aboard Apollonia
The new Fellow will help Apollonia and other sustainable ventures in the Hudson Valley and New York Harbor grow a robust regional green logistics network. Building that network will reduce emissions in communities in the Hudson Valley and New York City.

Congratulations to Brad – and a special thanks to the many generous donors. We hope everyone will continue to support the C4PCL’s efforts to build green logistics capacity in our region.

 You can can continue to support the new Andrus Fellowship and the mission of the Center for Post Carbon Logistics.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation here . If you don’t require a receipt you can donate by check here.  

Some background:

The Erik Andrus Sustainable Regional Logistics Fellowship is a project of The Center for Post Carbon Logistics. The position is named for Erik Andrus, the rice farmer who created the Vermont Sail Freight vessel Ceres and inspired many regional “make-sustainability-real” efforts. As such the Coordinator will emphasize practical, day-to-day work, but also fundraising and meeting with various governmental and commercial entities, toward these goals but also emphasize sharing of information and building of community to aid in the overall effort.

Vermont Sail Freight Vessel Ceres

The Andrus Fellow (coordinator) will initiate, support, and develop a sustainable logistics network that links manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers, key components of sustainable transport supply chain on the Hudson, the New York State canal system, New York Harbor, and coastal New York. This sustainable logistics network will reduce fossil fuel use and carbon emissions from the transportation of goods and people throughout the region.   

Schooner Apollonia is America’s only sustainable sail freight vessel, operating on the Hudson River and in New York Harbor.  Over the past three years, Apollonia has shipped over a hundred thousand pounds of goods by wind, reducing regional emissions. Apollonia has made something clear: taking action to build toward a more sustainable post-carbon approach to logistics is possible in our region. Even if the initial steps are small, we need to act.

Schooner Apollonia


Inspired by Apollonia’s work, it’s time to take the next step toward greater regional impact – with a full-time fellow dedicated to sustaining and growing tangible, feasible low carbon transport projects.  Your tax-deductible donation to the Center for Post Carbon Logistics will support the hiring of the Andrus Sustainability Fellow to maintain and grow the expanding regional green logistics network that Apollonia has helped pioneer.

Trade Route

In the first year, the Fellow will serve the Schooner Apollonia in expanding and strengthening the logistical backbone of its sustainable sail freight network of distribution, storage, transport, and fulfillment services, while also providing support to a select group of regional low/no carbon first and last mile logistics companies, producers, purveyors, wholesalers, retailers, and end users. 

Specific tasks will include but may not be limited to:

  • Documenting, improving, and expanding Apollonia’s existing trade routes 
  • Providing outreach and interpretation of Apollonia’s mission through virtual, customer venues, and “on dock” events.
  • Coordinating with other decarbonization efforts (both high profile and/or small-scale) across a range of prospective community-centered and commercial ventures
  • Analyzing and greening every logistical input to and output from the Apollonia’s existing trade routes with over 100 shipping partners.
  • Being the point of contact for the 20+ existing docking partners (private, municipal, and non-profit), the hundreds of individual customers, low no carbon first and last mile logistics providers, and thousands of supporters.

Although initially focused on wind-powered vessels, all practicable methods of eliminating fossil fuel-powered transport will be a priority.  The coordinator will also promote solar vessels, live/electric cargo bicycles and trailers, as well as electric, biofuel and hydrogen powered vehicles, and will participate in the development of a regional network of linked low/no-carbon businesses, organizations, and institutions, and the establishment of resilient regional micro-hubs (ranging from moderate-scale ports and required infrastructure, depots and warehouses, and partnerships with on-call green transport support networks).  

The long-term aim is to develop a regenerative regional for profit/not for profit hybrid cooperative logistics provider that takes on and continues the work of the fellowship. The goal of both the fellowship and the emergent entity is the same: to create and promote real, practical, resilient change, to build tangibly toward a future of an operational post carbon logistics with end-to-end management of specific services, a vital part of maritime based supply chain management. 

During the initial year of the fellowship, the coordinator will liaise with the Director of The Center for Post Carbon Logistics and the Captain of Schooner Apollonia on a regular basis. The role, in the first year, reflecting the work required for coordinating, executing, and improving Apollonia’s existing logistics and growing the regional sustainability network.  Thank you for supporting this important position, program, and its outcome. 

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

Sail Freight Second Edition

A publication of:

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics

Sail Freight Second Edition

Editor Steven Woods

Copywrite 2023 The Center for Post Carbon Logistics

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This handbook is not a comprehensive guide to Sail Freight
operations, but simply a collection of experience gained recently
during the Sail Freight Revival. It is hoped that this guide will aid in
understanding the functioning of sail freight operations, but relies on
perspective sail freight operators to be experienced sailors. The advice
in this work does not constitute an exhaustive or direct set of
procedures, but points the way to developing your own.
No part of this manual can be used directly without adaptation to
local circumstances, and does not constitute legal, business, investment, or financial advice.

Confrence on Small Scale Inland & Coastal Sail Freight 2022

A publication of:

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics

Rondout Riverport 2040

A publication of:

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics

Rondout Riverport 2040
© Andrew Willner 2022

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Rondout past and future

This work does not constitute an exhaustive or direct set of procedures, but points the way to developing your own plans for resilient small ports. No part of this publication can be used directly without adaptation to local circumstances, and does not constitute legal, business, investment, or financial advice.

Rondout Riverport 2040 proposes a pragmatic and prosperous vision for the near future with a transformed port, boasting a shore lined with leading-edge and heritage maritime commerce that profit and engage while allowing for an equitable transition beyond fossil fuels.

Rondout Riverport will offer more capacity, be significantly more compact, and more resilient than the current patchwork of land uses found on today’s waterfront. The mission of tomorrow’s port is the post carbon maritime transport of goods and people up and down the Hudson River and beyond. Riverport is designed to attract shipping, distribution, commerce, food processing, and craft businesses. The result: a regenerative working waterfront — a gateway to the Hudson Valley and world.

The port’s versatility will depend on the linking of its economic opportunities with environmental restoration, sustainable commerce, and training centers. This multi-generational project will also be a source of inspiration for broader long-term action on climate change.

The Sail Freighter Handbook

A publication of:

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics

The Sail Freighter Handbook
© Steven Woods 2022

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This handbook is not a comprehensive guide to Sail Freight
operations, but simply a collection of experience gained recently
during the Sail Freight Revival. It is hoped that this guide will aid in
understanding the functioning of sail freight operations, but relies on
perspective sail freight operators to be experienced sailors. The advice
in this work does not constitute an exhaustive or direct set of
procedures, but points the way to developing your own.
No part of this manual can be used directly without adaptation to
local circumstances, and does not constitute legal, business, investment, or financial advice.

Title Page Image courtesy of the University of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank.

Introduction And Scope

This small book isn’t designed to be a complete manual of
everything you need to know about Sail Freight: That would be a
volume of several gross register tons, and completely unreadable.
Instead, this is designed as an introductory How-To of the practical
elements of Sail Freight. Once you have started to understand the
regulations, practicalities, and the basics of navigation, this volume
will begin to be useful. Hopefully, this is the tool you read between
understanding the theory and buying a boat, to clear up the otherwise
difficult portions of making a sail freight business function.
When looking at Sail Freight, just knowing how to sail isn’t
enough. You have to know how to get cargo back and forth to the
docks, how to recruit cargos, be your own broker, and more.
Understanding Coast Guard and state regulations is critical, alongside
many other practical concerns you’ll find mentioned in this booklet.
This tool is designed to help guide you through the practical decisions
necessary to be successful, and isn’t going to help you learn to sail, or
handle cargo, or other challenges. While this may point out gaps
which need to be filled in your knowledge, it is hoped that closing
those gaps before you begin will save a lot of headache, money, and
(possibly) lives, in the long term.

https://postcarbonlogistics.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Sail-Freighter-Handbook-Google-Docs.pdf

Comments on the Transportation Sector of the New York State Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan

July 1, 2022

Draft Scoping Plan Comments
NYSERDA
17 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY 12203-6399

scopingplan@nyserda.ny.gov

Although these comments refer primarily to the Transportation Sector, we reserve the right to comment, in writing or in person, on the final version of the Scope of Work and any draft and final versions of the New York State Climate Action Plan and other documents, legislation, and regulations pertaining to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 (CLCPA).

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics (C4PCL) is a New York State non-profit organization that envisions a world of resilient, re-localized communities connected to one another through post carbon transport and logistics systems.[i] The Mission of The Center for Post Carbon Logistics is to research and assist in the implementation of appropriate post carbon maritime technology needed to keep commerce and transportation viable by responding to the interrelated connectivity, communication, equity, economic, ecological, and energy crises of the   21st Century. 

Overview of the Scoping Plan and the Transportation Sector:

The C4PCL agrees with and applauds the Council’s Benefits of Adaptation and Resilience and expects that the comments provided by the informed and engaged public will bolster the Council’s resolve to implement policies, programs, and projects to reach and exceed these aspirational goals in the short, mid, and long term.

Adaptation and resilience planning is about protecting people and ecosystems from the changes caused by a changing climate. Individuals, communities, and regions have come to recognize the need to prepare for the risks posed to their quality of life, infrastructure, and physical safety by climate change. These risks are disproportionately high for Disadvantaged Communities. Investment in adaptation and resilience can improve quality of life, stimulate local economies, and protect the environment.

Chapter 2. of the Scoping Plan lays out the impacts of climate change in New York.  The C4PCL agrees with the analysis of the impacts of the climate crisis and is willing and able to assist the Council in informing the broadest possible population with the immediacy of the threat and the need to act quickly with the necessary information to effect real change.

New York’s geographic and socioeconomic diversity will lead to a wide range of experienced climate driven impacts. Warming trends and incidences of intense heat waves will contribute to greater localized heat stresses; heavy rainfall events that exacerbate localized flooding will continue to impact food production, natural ecosystems, and water resources; and sea-level rise threatens sensitive coastal communities and ecosystems. Climate-driven impacts are magnified when accounting for New York’s most vulnerable populations, who are often disproportionately affected and on the front lines of climate change.

The Council has a responsibility to empower individuals and communities in the far-reaching actions required to mitigate and adapt to the negative socio-economic-environmental impacts of climate change. A key component must be a move away from a large-scale, global production/distribution model and toward re-localization – achieving fulfilling and equitable local livelihoods, lived in harmony with home bioregions.

Underpinning this transition is an understanding that the climate crisis requires urgent national, state, regional, and local action now. Without immediate action in New York’s transportation sector, an era of far-more-costly, and less available, fossil fuels – marked by disastrous global supply chain interruptions and shortages – looms and is inevitable. We have lost the resilience needed to cope with such system shocks. So immediate adaptation is essential.

Because words have power, The Council, must pay close attention to the thousands of commentors and be prepared to craft a compelling collective story – a promising vision of what New York in a carbon constrained future might be – not so much in policy and technological terms, but by providing community leaders the information and tools they need to engage their communities, family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues about what a positive path through the climate crisis will entail – to explore an array of innovative heritage and leading-edge technologies by which New Yorkers can thrive in decades ahead – designing and realizing pragmatic, environmentally and economically sound tools for peacefully, equitably, and intelligently transitioning away from fossil fuels. We must act together, using all our skill, ingenuity and intelligence, our home-grown creativity and cooperation, to unleash the collective genius of local communities, individuals, organizations, supported by the climate action plan, to achieve an abundant, connected, and healthier future for all.

As a species, we are storytellers. And the stories we tell collectively, whether they be found in Gilgamesh, the Bible, folklore, tradition, or government policy all serve as action plans for the time. They tell us what worked well in the past so we might move into a productive future. But sometimes those tales become outdated and the signposts pointing to safety in the past instead lead us down paths into danger.

The tale we’ve told ourselves over the last 300 years, since the “Age of Reason” and on into the modern Age of Expansion, is that we live in a time of limitless progress, of ever-expanding opportunity and possibility, in which there is a high technological fix for every problem.

In this story, we tell ourselves that unlimited growth and soaring GDP is a real measure of economic health and community wellbeing; that a rising stock market protects us, no matter how rundown our neighborhoods; that deregulation stimulates investment, even as climate destabilizing emissions rise; and that national security need only focus on existential threats beyond our borders, and not on quality of life and preservation of civil liberties.

Today, climate change — along with the socio-environmental and economic upheaval it brings — is turning the idea of endless progress on its head.  That’s why it is long past time for us to tell a new story: one that recognizes the turbulent sea of change we sail in; a story that recognizes the dangers around us but doesn’t demand a fear or grief response. This new story inspires us to prepare together as communities with open eyes, minds, and hearts — ready to face the risks of impending calamity while embracing the promise of resilience and hope of regeneration.

We need to change the narrative now, embrace a new story truer to circumstance — a storyline in which we heroically face adversity together, creating abundance out of crisis together, moving with agility through chaos toward new community values that will sustain us in the unsettled years ahead. The roots of that story are certain: we will thrive only by being earth and community stewards, rather than exploiters; only by demanding that our leaders address not only the economic balance sheet, but also our ecological and equity balance sheets. Only then will we be able to go ahead with hope and find a safe harbor in the climate crisis. Only then can we leave a better world for our children.

For the Council to tell this story we must first Assess and Evaluate:  Start by objectively assessing threats, then unflinchingly evaluate the greatest points of weakness — whether these take the form of infrastructure; social, public health, economic, environmental, or political structures. We need to fortify those weaknesses against the storms to come — work that will enrich our State, cities, towns, and neighborhoods in the present, while reducing risk and enhancing resilience for the future.  Unfortunately, the Transportation Sector is tepid in its goals and strategy for finding solutions in a timely way to the unfolding climate crisis in New York.  It is time for bold action not “hedging.,” because there is generally resistance to change, and The Council and its recommendations have powerful adversaries. 

An astroturf[1] organization, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, a fossil fuel industry front group,  retained SKDKnickerbocker, a public relations and lobbying firm with a history of operating similar front groups working to undermine workers’ and tenants’ rights.

The corporate interests behind New Yorkers for Affordable Energy have already succeeded in eliminating a proposal from the state budget to ban fossil gas hookups in newly constructed buildings – which was recommended by the Climate Action Council in its draft scoping plan –  and are now promoting misinformation to further weaken New York’s agenda as the Climate Action Council reviews comments on its proposed plan.

New Yorkers for Affordable Energy launched a television ad that seeks to drum up opposition to the proposal through misinformation. The ad claims that the bill would “ban gas stoves and furnaces… sticking you with a $30,000 price tag to replace them.” Energy Citizens an arm of the American Petroleum Industry is telling an untruthful but compelling story…….. Want Albany to choose your appliances?  And Don’t let the government tell you what kind of appliance you can buy.“

The first thing that the Council must do to counter this negative propaganda is clarify the crisis and provide the informed and engaged public with attainable goals for a “softer landing” for our children and grandchildren in what is likely to be a chaotic midcentury future.  And hire an equally talented public information/crisis management consultant to counter the incessant and misleading negativity of the New Yorkers for Affordable Energy.

The Council must re-evaluate the use of terms like growth and competitiveness in addressing the Climate Crisis:

The faster we produce and consume goods, the more we damage the environment,” Giorgos Kallis, an ecological economist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, writes in his manifesto, “Degrowth.” “There is no way to both have your cake and eat it, here. If humanity is not to destroy the planet’s life support systems, the global economy should slow down.”

In “Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities,” Vaclav Smil, a Czech-Canadian environmental scientist, complains that economists haven’t grasped “the synergistic functioning of civilization and the biosphere,” yet they “maintain a monopoly on supplying their physically impossible narratives of continuing growth that guide decisions made by national governments and companies.

In the mid-1970s, the phrase “small is beautiful” became a counterculture slogan against the industrial threat to the environment and the scarcity of resources. Arguing against excessive materialism and meaningless growth, the late Dr. Ernest Friedrich Schumacher—the author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered,

… promoted the use of small-scale technology to benefit both humankind and the environment. As an economist trained in a market-oriented discipline, his thinking evolved from believing that large-scale technology could be salvation for industrial civilization to believing that large-scale technology is the root of degrading human beings and the environment.

In the Transportation Sector, as well as the entirety of the Scope of work for the Climate Plan, a new way of looking at the economy, culture and environment of New York must be adopted.  The idea that growth is necessary skews the plan away from true mitigation and adaptation to the Climate Crisis.  The document also does little to explain the role of public and private transportation policy and implementation decisions made in New York, in conjunction with the federal government, in creating and exacerbating the climate crisis.[2]

The transportation challenge: We in New York need to think differently about how to move goods and people from place to place in a carbon constrained future because we are living in an age of unprecedented change, with several crises converging. These calamities have been exacerbated by the profligate use of   cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. This “quadruple crunch” of overlapping events, a global financial crisis, pandemics, accelerating climate change, and aberrant fluctuations in energy prices exacerbated by imminent peak oil makes it increasingly clear that this combination of events threaten to develop into a “perfect storm” with devastating economic and environmental consequences for not just the New York but for the country and the world.

New York’s transportation sector contributes almost 30% of carbon emissions. And the seminal questions that should be asked by the Council in this sector is:

  • In a carbon constrained future, how will goods and people be moved from place to place, and what role will The Climate Action Plan provide in resources and leadership? 
  • How should we meet the looming challenges of climate change, rising sea level, aging infrastructure, changes to global shipping and supply chains, threats to food security, and the risks these changes bring to New York’s environmental, cultural, and financial wellbeing?
  • How do we address this daunting multitude of challenges and turn them into opportunities for transforming transportation to serve our State far effectively and efficiently into the future?

Summary of Recommendations: C4PCL’s comments focus on opportunities, adaptation, and mitigation in the Transportation Sector and on solutions that use and enhance New York’s entrepreneurial, commercial, and industrial enterprises, makers, processors, local resources, and by training and employing New Yorkers in a carbon constrained future.

Recommendation 1. Decarbonize Maritime Transportation: Moving goods and people from place to place in a carbon constrained future will be dependent on sailing vessels, hybrid/fossil free electric ships, and people/electric, powered transport for first and last mile logistics.

Recommendation 2. Converting ICE vehicles to EVs/ZEVs/alternative fuels: There is very little disagreement that EVs/ZEVs are the future of the automobile and light truck industry.  Over the lifetime of a ZEV the carbon footprint is significantly less than an internal combustion vehicle.  One huge problem given short shrift in the Scope is what happens to all those ICE vehicles that get traded in?

Recommendation 3. Improved and Free Transit: Tallinn, Estonia made international headlines when it became the first capital city in the world to introduce free public transport for its residents in 2013.

Recommendation 4. Demand Responsive Transportation (DRT): When it comes to improving public transportation in rural areas—flexibility is key. The first step is to provide an easy and efficient way for more people to access public transportation. On-Demand Public transportation, also known as Demand-Responsive Transportation (DRT) provides a way to increase the geographical coverage of a traditional public transit service.

Recommendation 5.  Electrification of commuter, interstate, and municipal buses: Close to 90% of commuter intra and interstate buses are diesel powered.  Some municipalities are transitioning to hybrid and electric buses, but the Plan should include regulation, incentives, and subsidies for the conversion of all diesel-powered buses. 

Recommendation 6. Electrification and Solarization of freight and passenger trains: Trains are one of the most efficient and sustainable form of transport.  Worldwide around 75% of trains have been electrified, while 25% still use fossil fuels. The bad news is that even electric locomotives use a partially polluting mix

Recommendation 7. Improved bicycle and E-bike transportation opportunities: Although electric bicycles didn’t receive much attention during the COP26— to the chagrin of some sustainability mobility advocates — 2021 was the year they found a more welcoming home around the world. An analysis by Business Research published in mid-November estimated global e-bike sales at $36.5 billion for the year, a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 percent over 2020. Within three years, revenue could reach $53.3 billion, the market research firm predicts.

Recommendation 8. Airships and electric aircraft: Airships are relatively inexpensive, they can carry a substantial amount of cargo, and they are significantly more environmentally friendly than their heavier-than-air relatives. Once thought to have passed into memory, airships are having something of a renaissance.

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Recommendation 1: Decarbonize Maritime Transportation

Moving goods and people from place to place in a carbon constrained future will be dependent on sailing vessels, hybrid/fossil free electric ships, and people/electric, powered transport for first and last mile logistics.

Despite its present dominance, our current maritime logistics system is fragile. It is reliant upon carbon-based fuels driving internal combustion engines. It is interwoven into long-distance, globalized world trade. It is designed for Just-In-Time delivery. And it depends upon its present ability to avoid paying for negative externalities such as carbon emissions and environmental pollution, and to avoid being governed by meaningful labor, environmental, health, and other laws.

polluting vessel

The international shipping industry is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters. If the maritime sector were a country, it would be one of the top six carbon polluters.  The shipping industry has been reluctant to take unilateral leadership on emissions.  The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is puttering around the edges. It recently declined to make a greenhouse gas reduction plan or commitment. The United States for a variety of reasons, chief among them that there is a tiny US flag fleet, has remained almost silent on this issue.

The Center for Post Carbon Logistics (C4PCL), along with a local, regional, and international coalition posit an alternative.  That alternative is disruptive competition from an emerging suite of technologies –solar, wind/sail, and green hydrogen  powered shipping on New York waterways.  Water-borne shipping, even now, is dramatically more energy-efficient than its land-based counterpart.  New York, with its network of waterways connecting the Great Lakes to the Hudson, to New York Harbor, and the ocean, has a leadership opportunity in growing this industry.

Achieving New York State’s Climate Act’s goals will require addressing the enormous footprint of transporting goods and people using fossil fuels.  Building Future Proof ships in New York’s Hudson River shipyards is the first step toward a regenerative shipping industry on New York’s canals, the Hudson River, The Harbor, the East Coast, Caribbean, and transatlantic routes.

New York’s Waterways:

What role will New York’s waterways play a carbon constrained future? How should we meet the looming challenges of climate change, rising sea level, aging infrastructure, changes to global shipping patterns, threats to food security, and the risks these changes bring to New York?

The USDOT Maritime Administration (MARAD) America’s Marine Highway Program was created by Congress in 2007 and expanded in 2012 and 2016. Marine Highways are water-based freight corridors. For example, M-87 includes the Hudson River and connects ports and harbors from New York City to Albany and navigation channels such as the Erie Canal. The MARAD program was created to expand the use of the country’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, reduce air emissions, and provide new transportation options to increase the efficiency of the surface transportation system. MARAD administers a grant program to fund system improvements. New York is served by Marine Highways M-87, M-90, M-95, and M-295.

The Hudson River, a Water Highway

Not so long ago the Hudson River was a bustling highway linking even the smallest communities to a web of regularly scheduled commercial routes. Schooners, sloops, barges, and (much later) steamboats provided a unique way of life for early river town inhabitants. Farmers, merchants, quarrymen, brick factories, and oystermen relied on this vibrant and diverse fleet of vessels to bring in supplies and deliver their goods to market. This arm-of-the-sea was an integral part of the lives of those who worked New York’s waterways.

However, life at the water’s edge is rapidly changing. The impacts of new technology, patterns of urban development, and globalization are redefining global logistics, and while some waterfront cities will thrive as ports and grow under these new conditions, others will need to evolve to survive and succeed…. How will New York re-invent its maritime transportation sector?

How do we address this daunting multitude of challenges and turn them into opportunities for transforming our waterways and ports to serve our regional and national economy effectively and efficiently into the future?

  • If present trends continue, New York and its largest and smallest ports will need to be transformed into the spokes of a hub for “short sea shipping”  rather than serving as terminus for unsustainable container cargo. The good news: the New York has an extensive network of waterways, and so is very well suited for the short sea shipping mode of freight transport. Moreover, public agencies and private companies are investigating the potential economic and environmental benefits of transferring more cargo from road to sea.
  • As New York moves forward to low/no carbon shipping and the working waterfronts of tomorrow, the constraints, and in some cases the advantages, of smaller and (s)lower tech modes of transport must be considered to support these imminent changes.
  • If the New York’s maritime transport and working waterfronts are to thrive, 19th, 20th, and 21st Century technology must meld seamlessly into new, mid-century methods of transport with an emphasis on what might seem like bygone, but productive, methodologies to become more self-sufficient and sustainable.

Priorities, amendments/additions to Transportation Sector:

Green Shipping Corridor
  1. The Council Adopts a Hudson River Green Shipping Corridor:[ii]

Achieving zero emissions from maritime transportation over the coming years and decades will require research, development, demonstration, and deployment at a massive scale, as well as enabling policies that incentivize the shift to low- and zero-emission fuels and technologies as soon as possible.  Adoption of these fuels and technologies, while limited in the short term, will rapidly accelerate once the supply chain is established and governments and the shipping sector signal their intent for energy transition.Green shipping corridors are meant to accelerate this early adoption phase. They therefore should strive for emissions reductions that push the envelope beyond business-as-usual, demonstrating a commitment to achieve full decarbonization through sustained efforts.  Green shipping corridors will not achieve zero emissions across all aspects of the corridor overnight.  Instead, the journey to establish a fully decarbonized corridor is a series of steps and actions taken over time to cover all aspects of the route.

One of the first steps in creating a green shipping corridor is to convene relevant stakeholders across the value chain and to outline anticipated timelines, targets, and achievements.  Creating a fully decarbonized green shipping corridor is a process, which will require long-term plans to help participants achieve their emissions reduction goals.  Stakeholder engagement will be critical, especially with residents in communities with environmental justice concerns, to ensure strategies are tailored to address the priorities and goals of near-port communities. New York State through its Climate Plan establishes the Hudson River, and the New York State Canal System as the nation’s first Green Shipping Corridor.

2. The Council/New York DOT Support a MARAD Marine Highway Project Designation for M-87 Hudson River:

In April 2022 the C4PCL and colleagues[3] provided the NYSDOT, with materials for consideration to become the applicant for the Maritime Administration, Marine Highway project designation for Hudson River based maritime commerce projects.  The Department responded after several weeks of deliberations, without explanation, that the project did not qualify.  We, adamantly disagree and although the deadline for applications for project designations has passed for this year, we believe that these projects have merit and will continue to pursue them, and specifically ask that this project designation is included in the Climate Plan’s Transportation Sector. 

New York Marine Highways

Why this designation?

The Hudson River properly prides itself in being the cradle of pioneering maritime technology and the birthplace of the environmental movement.  It has always been a magnet for innovative thinkers and doers in transportation technology, maritime commerce, engineering, agriculture, business, and artisanship who are inventing new ways of doing business and employing people with a smaller environmental footprint and a passion for equity and inclusion.  Our regional post carbon maritime strategy is designed to engage and support the creative economy, broadly defined, and to be disruptive in a positive way. 

This collaborative effort extends the entire length of the M-87 Marine Highway[4] corridor and revolves around, but is not limited to the New York State Canal System, Hudson River, New York Harbor, the US East Coast, and Caribbean. 

To highlight the benefits, increase public awareness and promote The Hudson River as a necessary alternative to “landside” shipping and transportation options, a group of maritime professionals and advocates from all around the region propose a series of Marine Highway project designations to:

  • Adopt a Hudson River Green Shipping Corridor
  • support existing and proposed low/no carbon commercial maritime ventures and post carbon logistics,
  • enhance ship building and repair industries,
  • the revitalization and resilience of small Hudson River ports,[5] 
  • and the re/training of shipwrights, longshore and logistics professionals, and mariners.  (see 6.The Hudson River Maritime Innovation Center)

In the 19th until the mid-20th centuries, the Hudson River bustled with commerce and lay at the heart of a thriving network of “Marine Byways” — waterways stretching from the Atlantic west to the Great Lakes linking cities and the smallest communities to a web of regularly scheduled transportation routes.  For hundreds of years, thousands of ships and boats of all sizes served local cargo and passenger needs. The Hudson River — and the ships and boats sailing her — were vital to those who lived and worked along these inland waters, putting those communities on the map.

Today, however, waterways like the Hudson River, and its small ports are underutilized. Incentivizing shippers to use this critical transportation corridor more consistently would create significant public benefits and opportunities, including but not limited to a lower carbon footprint for the movement of freight and passengers.

Solaris

This initiative is well along in the process with initial vessels such as the sail cargo Schooner Apollonia, and the Solar Electric CG inspected passenger vessel Solaris already in service, the Hudson River Maritime Museum’s  Boat School and maritime history exhibits, sail freight exhibit, sail freight conference, and education projects, and major sailing vessel restoration projects,  as well as active commercial, shipwrights,  shipyards and boat builders throughout the corridor.  Within the next 1 – 5 years, it will create and enhance a wide array of public benefits for the people in this strategic corridor.  It will:

  • create and sustain jobs on New York built vessels, and at ports, and shipyards
  • relieve landside congestion in transportation and shipping
  • show by practical example, the use of emerging resilient and renewable propulsion technologies
  • improve New York’s and the US economic competitiveness by adding new cost-effective freight and passenger transportation capacities
  • improve environmental sustainability of New York’s and the US transportation system by using less energy and reducing greenhouse gases per passenger or ton-mile of freight moved

Marine Highway Proposal for Project Designation:

Although the M-87, the Hudson River from NY Harbor to the Erie Canal is designated a Marine Highway, until recently with the reinvigoration of sail cargo and solar powered passenger service, there has been underutilization of the river’s small ports.  The primary commercial vessels currently transiting the Hudson are petroleum and chemical barges, some ocean-going ships, and tug and barge project cargo going directly from New York Harbor to Albany/Troy, and some seasonal tour and cruise ships.

The proposed Marine Highway project designations will address this limitation as it activates a network of maritime transportation advocates, shipping and agricultural products processing enterprises, “makers” and small manufacturers, first and last mile logistics businesses, ship yards and boat builders, community organizations, municipalities, counties, and The State of New York to revitalize the Hudson’s maritime economy anticipating the challenges and advantages of moving goods and people by water in a carbon-constrained future, and to ensure that this vision is aligned with community, ecological, and equity values and sensibilities; to achieve this goal.  The following are the projects that are proposed for designation to make them eligible for funding under the Maritime Administration, Marine Highway grants program.

Proof of Concept:

Schooner Apollonia

The Schooner Apollonia is engaged in commerce under sail on the Hudson River and New York Harbor. Apollonia is a 64-foot steel-hulled schooner built in Baltimore, MD in 1946. She is designed to move efficiently through the water, powered by a traditional gaff-rig sail plan designed by naval architect J Murray Watts.  With a 15’ beam and rugged steel construction, she’s a stout work boat capable of carrying 20,000 lbs. of cargo. Being a schooner, the crew requirements are smaller, and the variety of sails gives flexibility for different conditions that we will encounter on the river.  Apollonia is the descendant of the Hudson River Sloop and the proof of concept for Jones Act compliant, purpose-built sail cargo vessels designed for River, Harbor, and short sea coastal trade.

  • Hudson River/New York Harbor Sail Cargo Service
    • When designated, the project funding will be used to expand the operations of the Schooner Apollonia and the ports and customer she services.  Apollonia is an existing sail cargo business transporting primarily malt, flour, and grain to distilleries and breweries, other agricultural products to processors, and shelf stable local food and beverage products to customers.  To continue to develop the route, secure docking, loading, and unloading facilities, warehousing, first and last mile low carbon logistics, secure haul back cargoes, upgrades to existing vessel, and R&D and design a purpose-built ship(s) for this route will require significant public and private investment. 
    • Develop a low carbon logistics system, more of a “warehouse in transit,” than “just in time” model.  To implement the “parallel” low/no carbon logistics system, a “post carbon” third party logistics company (PC3PL) will be established. This PC3PL provider is a specialist company that will provide a range of distribution, storage, transport, and fulfillment services to Apollonia, (and to other vessels as the fleet expands) as well as low/no carbon first and last mile logistics companies, producers, purveyors, wholesalers, retailers, and end users. These companies would outsource these types of operations to the PC3PL business and rely on the PC3PL to offer end-to-end management of specific services.[iii]
  • The expansion of an existing maritime cargo service:

To meet the emergent climate crisis, and to confront the immense carbon pollution of the existing fossil fueled transport of goods and people throughout New York and the Hudson Valley, a new generation of  “future proof” Liberty from Fossil Fuel Ships will be upgraded, repurposed, and locally built to enable the continued movement of goods and people from place to place by water in a carbon constrained future, and  to highlight the benefits, increase public awareness, and promote The Hudson River as a necessary alternative to “landside” shipping and transportation options.

These ships will be brutally simple, but elegant, re-used, re-purposed, and purpose built by local shipwrights to kick start the revival of US flagged ships in domestic, short sea, and international trade. Using proven construction techniques and tried and true (as well as innovative) sail propulsion/electric propulsion technology these “flagships of the future” will be the first steps in adapting to and mitigating the climate crisis, that in significant part is caused by fossil fueled transport.

Locally built, from locally sourced and recycled materials, crewed with locally trained mariners, home ported along the Hudson, the Harbor, and the canals, carrying locally grown, locally processed, and locally manufactured goods – with liberty from fossil fuels, these future proof ships will be a positive disruption to the status quo.

Eriemax RSS 80 Geoff Uttmark
  1. Purpose built vessels for M-87, M-95, and M-90 Marine Highway Service:
    • Eriemax Sail/Electric Canal, River, and Coastal Cargo and Sail Training Vessel:
  2. develop final design, building plans, and price of construction at a Hudson Valley Shipyard, for a purpose-built prototype 80’ canal, river, and coastal, sail cargo vessel for a new generation of climate adaptive modular design freighters using the best combination of traditional and new technology.  The $800K to 1.5 million (estimated) price for construction could come, in part from the Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI) and significant public, private, and crowdfunded investment.  Concept in Appendix 2.
Electric Clipper Derek Ellard Design
  1. R&D, design, and develop shipyard drawings for a purpose built 180-200’ “short sea” and transoceanic “Electric Clipper” sail freight and training vessel with a cargo capacity of up to 900 tons or 36 TEUs. A concept drawing of this vessel is included in appendix 2. The estimated $2.5 to 3.5 million construction cost could come from the  Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI) and significant public, private investment and crowdfunded investment. 
  2. Hudson River Solar Ferries. This grant, when designated, will support a comprehensive ferry master plan to develop a new, modern, efficient, solar electric passenger and cargo ferry design for Hudson River transits. The plan will serve as a comprehensive analysis of operations and service needs, and help determine the types, sizes, and number of ferries that are needed in the future. With a regional and national push towards a low carbon economy transition, the Hudson River passenger ferry system can incorporate technologies within the vessels that can benefit the environment, passengers, and the communities the ferries serve.  These funds will also be used to develop preliminary designs for these vessels and will make use of the three years of performance data from the operation of the solar electric Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel Solaris.  An additional option would be to convert the existing Beacon/Newburg Ferry to battery electric. This project then could be considered an expansion of existing service.  
  3. The Marine Byways and Resilient Small Port Toolkit,[iv] when designated, will collect, and disseminate (in reports, apps, and interactive websites) new and existing information to enable the revival of small port working waterfronts, and small to medium sized maritime and logistics businesses. This data collection will include but not be limited to review, analysis, and reporting of the findings of government and non-governmental reports and publications, as well as field checking and developing new sources of information.[v] Examples already underway, or completed are  GIS port mapping work being done by the Schooner Apollonia and the Center for Post Carbon Logistics with assistance from Vassar College interns,[6] and GIS flood mapping work done by Kytt McManus at Columbia, and by Scenic Hudson’s Sea Level Rise Mapper.
    1. Rondout Riverport 2040/A resilient small port blueprint 
      1. A paper prepared for a conference in September 2021 for the Wind Propulsion Conference held by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects.  The paper was republished in two parts at Resilience.org. Rondout Riverport 2040 Part 1, and Part 2.  This report and publication along with other materials can be the basis of planning for resilient small ports throughout New York.

5. Decarbonizing Recreational Boating

In 2018, 2019 there was total of 440,381 boat registrations, of which, 435,213 were registered for recreational purposes in New York. Those, primarily powerboats consist of fossil fueled 2 and 4 stroke outboards and inboard gasoline or diesel engines, many large and small sailboats have auxiliary outboard or inboard gasoline and diesel engines.   

  • Jet skis and pleasure boats combined accounting for 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline in the US.
  • Resins in fiberglass boats, “Dacron” in sails and lines are derived from fossil fuels
  • Boats release numerous harmful substances into aquatic and marine environments, including nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs).
  • ships and boats in the US produced about 44.5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019

E-boat and electric motor manufacturing opportunities

Electric powered boats, like electric automobiles were ubiquitous in the early to mid-twentieth century and are seeing a resurgence as motors, batteries, and solar panels become lighter and more available.  There are New York based electric boat and motor manufacturers and with the appropriate incentives, such as expanding the Green Boat program statewide will provide more employment opportunities and economic development while reducing the carbon footprint of recreational and tourism boating.

  • Solar Sal Boats is a solar electric boatbuilding manufacturer founded by David Borton a New York based solar boat pioneer.  Solar Sal boats was the client for the construction of Solaris, the Hudson River Maritime Museum’s solar electric Coast Guard inspected solar electric passenger vessel.
  • Elco is a electric yacht and motor manufacturer located in New York.  “Combining traditional and proven designs with trailblazing motor and control technology, Elco leads the industry in electric propulsion. Elco outboard and inboard electric and hybrid propulsion systems provide quiet and clean power for those water-based activities.”
  • Finger Lake Electric Boat  is an electric boat company located in the heart of the Finger lakes of New York. Taking over the production of Adirondack Electric Boat that started in the year 2001 they are continuing the production of Adirondack style electric boats.  In addition to building the Adirondack style electric boats we are in the process of adding new electric boat models to the Finger Lakes Electric Boat fleet.
  • Halevai Boats will build renewable energy solutions for the marine industry. We are developing better building materials and methods to build boats. Founded in 2020, Halevai is a new concept boat manufacturer focused on design, reliability and conservation.  Our debut craft, the model 2050, was inspired by the goals of the historic COP21 UN climate conference and is the first high performance boat in its category to be fully electric powered.  
  • Scarano Boat Company electric powered canal boat replica.  Scarano Boat designs and builds period wood, aluminum, composite, and steel boats, Coast Guard–certified for public transportation and excursions. Scarano Boat has developed a national reputation for modern wood construction. Scarano Boat has found a niche in the production of replica sailing vessels, and certified passenger vessels with classic styling and appointments. 
electic catamaran conversion (Rik van Hemmen)

Converting Fossil Fueled recreational boats to hybrid/electric

Instead of developing technologies to replace current recreational boating equipment, some vessels can be “retrofitted,” for a more efficient performance.

  • For example, in 2015, a small team of researchers successfully converted an 18’ Pursuit 2000 S2 gasoline-powered boat into a hybrid electric boat, or HEB. Specifically, they replaced a nonfunctional Evinrude 225 V6 engine with a battery-powered electric motor.[7] The new eco-friendly design is intended for use in rivers and lakes, primarily. The deep-cycle batteries can be solar charged and powered by a hydrogen fuel cell unit as a bonus.  
  • In 2020, another team followed suit, aiming to “[convert] a traditional internal combustion engine-powered leisure boat into an electric propelled type.” This project also focused on battery power, particularly a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). This reduces fuel consumption and could potentially save boaters money on refueling.[8]

According to the American Boating Association, “Clean boating and other forms of environmental stewardship (or the lack thereof) has the potential to affect a significant portion of the Nation’s economy.”. Electric propulsion can start to put an end to greenhouse gas production.

student shipwright

6.    The Hudson River Maritime Innovation Center, a multiyear proposal:  Year one, planning and facility(ies) identification) The Maritime Innovation Center will help the region’s maritime industry adopt new, and traditional maritime technologies, stimulate innovative entrepreneurship, promote knowledge transfer, business incubation, and workforce development to address maritime innovation challenges and opportunities.

The Maritime Innovation Center will provide training for the next generation of shipwrights, longshore and logistics professionals, and mariners, sustain maritime industries, and assist the Hudson Valley region’s ports to modernize and become more climate adaptive, enhance post carbon logistic operations, promote green shipbuilding, and provide good jobs in the marine industry, and key lines of businesses, services, and products.

Vision for the Center: The Hudson Valley will be a hub for resilient maritime businesses by creating a system of innovation that drives productive collaboration among non-profit, industry, academia, and local, county, and state government. Partnering with other maritime enterprises and organizations the Maritime Innovation Center will provide a physical place where professional practitioners, students, and apprentices can participate in theory and practice workshops for teaching and learning new maritime technologies while preserving the skills of the past to serve a carbon constrained future. 

Focus:  The Center will focus on marine technology, and marine policy. Attendees should expect to spend time on ships and in shipyards in all seasons with the Innovation Center’s business and public partners. The Innovation Center will work to develop authentic activities on and around, ports and the river that create a sense of responsibility to the Hudson River and develop a new generation of maritime advocates, workers, and decision-makers who know how to use their heads, hearts, and hands. 

It will be designed to help those who participate discover their interests and passions, not just prepare them for tests. At its core, the is about inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship, community, and maritime tradition.  Paraphrasing the title of Transition Town Rob Hopkins’ book, The Hudson River Maritime Innovation Center will be the embodiment of the “Power of Just Doing Stuff.”  

Floating Office Rotterdam

Facility, structure, and location: A new or climate adapted historic shoreside building(s), a vessel like the Floating Hospital Ship (Now moored in the Rondout Creek), or a floating facility like the Floating Office Rotterdam will be built, adapted, or restored, and modernized into a LEED-certified, “future proofed,” and environmentally friendly facility. It will include a mix of classrooms and working space for incubators, accelerators, and anchor tenants along with fabrication and event space. The facility will be a “Living Structure” with advanced sustainability and resiliency features.

This center will benefit the region and the maritime community in several ways: 

  • Creating new employment opportunities for young people, and retraining experienced workers in the participating startups and established maritime businesses
  • Building the region’s status as a center for excellence in the maritime economy in a carbon constrained future.
  • Elevating awareness of entrepreneurs and stimulating confidence in the maritime industry to create new (and renewed) products and services 
  • Creating new opportunities for established area businesses to develop relationships with early-stage companies
  • Nurturing the next generation of diverse, inclusive, and representative maritime workforce with technological expertise and access to “green,” living-wage jobs as mariners, ship and boat builders, logistics specialists, welders, woodworkers, riggers, sailmakers, and battery and solar electric propulsion installers, and maintenance techs among others.

Recommendation 2. Converting ICE vehicles to EVs/ZEVs:

There is very little disagreement that EVs/ZEVs are the future of the automobile and light truck industry.  Over the lifetime of a ZEV the carbon footprint is significantly less than an internal combustion vehicle.  One huge problem given short shrift in the Scope is – what happens to all those ICE vehicles that get traded in?  Normally the vehicles whether sold privately or traded into a dealer will be resold and can operate for tens of thousands of miles more with the same or increased emissions.  Even if all ICE vehicles are taken out of service in New York by a certain date, those vehicles will be sold in another state or overseas, so there will be no net reduction in emissions for the life of those vehicles.

ICE to EV conversion

Subsidize the ICE to EV,ZEV, alternative fuel conversion business in New York:

Presently ICE to EV conversions are limited to specialty custom businesses for customers with “classic” or “performance” cars, and some kits sold to DIY mechanics.  The process can range in price from less than $10 thousand to more than $100 thousand.  However, if New York made the decision to subsidize/incentivize new conversion businesses, re/training mechanics, and provide tax credits and other incentives to vehicle owner “first adaptors” that brought the cost down to less than the price of a new ZEV there are several overlapping benefits.  Many people like their present cars and light trucks and may resist buying a new, expensive EV that feels, looks, and drives differently than their present vehicle. 

Working with NYSERDA, NYSDOT, NYSDEC, NGO’s and other relevant businesses, institutions, and federal agencies initiate demonstration projects:

  • Municipalities, counties, and state agencies decarbonize their fleets
  • BOCES training and retraining programs for conversion specialists, for independent mechanics and dealer employees
  • “Cash” for engines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks, and accessories for more than scrap value.
  • Computerized supply chain for used and new motors, batteries, brake vacuum pumps, power steering, electric heaters, seat heaters, EV adaptable air conditioning, and regenerative braking systems.
  • Subsidies and tax advantages for electric motor and battery manufacturers to relocate to New York.
  • Work with vehicle producers to provide components for conversion, E.g. Ford Lightning parts for Ford ICE pickups.
  • Incentivize dealers to convert ICE trade ins to EV’s
  • Incentivize School districts to convert diesel school buses to EVs and alternative diesel.
    • When we consider emissions from electric school buses, it is important to remember that the population most exposed to diesel school bus emissions are children. Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution.  
  • Incentivize fleet operators and car rental businesses to buy conversions or set up conversion facilities
  • Incentivize farmers to convert diesel tractors and other ICE vehicles to alternative diesel and EVs.
  • Incentivize police, fire, and emergency departments to convert existing ICE fleets.
  • Set regulations and standards and train inspectors for both professional and DIY conversions
  • Prohibit the exportation of functioning ICE vehicles from New York to other States or overseas.
  • Provide subsidies and incentives for “fryer fat” to biodiesel conversion facilities.
  • Provide subsidies for biodigesters for biogas from organic waste facilities.

Recommendation 3. Improved and Free Transit:

Public Transportation Improves Commuters Productivity

Free Public Transit enhances all these benefits:

Tallinn, Estonia made international headlines when it became the first capital city in the world to introduce free public transport for its residents in 2013. With a population of almost half a million, the municipality undertook the measure to make access to public transport more equitable and for the perceived economic benefits.

“We wanted to improve social mobility and stimulate the local economy by getting people out and about on the evenings and weekends,” says Allan Alaküla, Head of Tallinn’s EU Office and spokesperson for the scheme.

Surveys conducted by the city in 2010 and in 2011 indicated that ticket costs had become the main barrier to increasing usage of public transport, which was in turn hindering the city’s broader economic development.

Island Transit has been a fare-free bus system since its founding in 1987. You don’t need a ticket, cash, or coins to ride the bus, which makes bus transportation a very easy and convenient way to travel around Island County. Just hop on and go. Bus service is funded through 9 tenths of 1% of Island County’s local sales tax and supplemented by state and federal grants.

Stinger Anderson got hooked on riding the bus after a colleague showed him how. He loves the tradeoffs including more time and money to spend in other ways.

Recommendation 4. Demand Responsive Transportation (DRT):

When it comes to improving public transportation in rural areas—flexibility is key. The first step is to provide an easy and efficient way for more people to access public transportation. On-Demand Public transportation, also known as Demand-Responsive Transportation (DRT) provides a way to increase the geographical coverage of a traditional public transit service. This means vehicles can cover a larger service area and reach more passengers. By utilizing DRT technology to improve fleet efficiency and give passengers a way to book public transportation—Councils, Fleet Operators and Transit Agencies in rural communities can easily improve their Public Transportation offering.[vi]

Recommendation 5. Electrification of commuter, interstate, and municipal buses:

Mass transit is the antidote to climate change,” MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber said at a Midtown press conference, adding that transit avoids putting 17 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere annually (e.g., by keeping people out of cars). Transportation is the second-largest contributor of greenhouse-gas emissions in New York, after buildings.

Close to 95% of commuter intra and interstate buses are diesel powered.  Some municipalities are transitioning to hybrid and electric buses, but the Plan should include regulation, incentives, and subsidies for the conversion of all diesel-powered buses.  The MTA has an electrification program but only a very small percentage of its fleet is electric. 

The MTA now deploys 1,300 hybrid gas-electric buses, 399 of which sometimes operate solely on electric power in an “EV mode.” It pledges to purchase only electric buses by 2029. New York State budgeted $1.1 billion for buying 500 electric buses in the 2020-2024 capital plan.  This goal must be ramped up and speeded up and should include all municipal and county transit systems in the
State.

In the Portland, OR metro area, TriMet says it has cut its carbon emissions by more than 50% in the last six months by transitioning to renewable diesel and renewable electricity. It’s also trying to grow the number of electric buses in service.

According to the Sierra Club’s Zero Emission Bus Fact Sheet:

  • EV buses already have lower comparative lifetime costs than diesel buses and CNG buses, and costs continue to drop rapidly.
    • Government estimates of zero emission bus prices sharply decline as advances in battery manufacturing and increased demand drive down costs. By 2025an electric bus is expected to cost $480,000, equal to or less than the cost of a new diesel vehicle.
  • Locked In O&M savings can then be used to expand the EV bus fleet, generating further savings
    • Electric buses also have substantially lower operating and maintenance (O&M) expenses as compared to their diesel and CNG alternatives. With an electric or hydrogen fuel cell bus, there are no oil changes or emissions tests, fewer parts that can break, and less wear on braking systems. The average lifetime maintenance cost for an electric bus is just $.60/mile.
  • EV Buses provide significant reductions in tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions
    • It is also important to consider where these emission reductions will occur. Transit buses tend to operate in heavily populated urban areas and suburban corridors. Pollution from these sources falls directly upon the surrounding communities and commuters.

Anecdotally there are no electric interstate buses operating in or to and from New York.  This provides an additional opportunity to convert diesel and natural gas buses to alternative diesel and EV’s.  See Solution 2.

The Germany-based company FlixBus ran an electric bus pilot recently from Seattle to Eugene. The company purchased Greyhound in October, but it has been steadily expanding the U.S. market for intercity travel since it landed here in 2018.

Recommendation 6. Electrification and solarization of freight and passenger trains[vii]

Trains are one of the most efficient and sustainable form of transport.  Worldwide around 75% of trains have been electrified, while 25% still use fossil fuels. The bad news is that even electric locomotives use a partially polluting mix. The Council should set specific timetables for the electrification of all commuter and freight trains in New York and calculate the solar and other alternative electric power generation needed to accomplish this.

  • Continue electrification of diesel branches of commuter rail
  • Require that electricity be generated from non-fossil fuel sources
  • Working with NYSERDA provide grants to encourage the development of solar electric[viii] and fuel cell powered commuter and freight trains. 
  • Solarize all commuter rail stations (for trains, EV’s, and E-bikes) and create charging stations at rail maintenance yards.
  • Working with the Federal Railroad Administration and the NYSDOT begin the electrification of all freight/cargo trains in New York State. 
  • If electrification is not feasible research the use of hydrogen fuel cells, direct burning of green hydrogen or biogas or biodiesel in diesel/electric train engines and switching modes from rail to maritime. See Recommendation 1.

Recommendation 7. Improved bicycle and E-bike transportation opportunities:

Cargo E-bike

Although electric bicycles didn’t receive much attention during the COP26— to the chagrin of some sustainability mobility advocates — 2021 was the year they found a more welcoming home around the world. An analysis by Business Research  estimated global e-bike sales at $36.5 billion for the year, a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 percent over 2020. Within three years, revenue could reach $53.3 billion, the market research firm predicts.

E-Bikes for commuting and first and first and last mile logistics:

  • According to calculations touted by a legislative proponent of this idea, California Congressman Jimmy Panetta, if e-bikes handled many short-distance trips — particularly for commuting — currently traveled by cars, it would cut emissions by 12 percent.
  • While e-bike proponents generally talk up the benefits for individuals and commuters, the format also holds substantial promise when it comes to last-mile delivery, especially in urban environments where tricycles or quadricycles powered by pedal assist/battery could be a practical alternative to trucks and vans.

Commuting, recreation, local shopping, and first and last mile logistics using E-bikes and trikes will have significant public and private benefits:

  • Improved health
  • Manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, and sales contribute economic benefits to the communities in which they are located.
  • Improves over all fuel efficiency
  • Reduces air pollution if E-bike batteries are charges from alternative power sources.
  • reduces road congestion
  • Improves individual and community mobility
  • Provides a more equitable transportation system

Next steps:

NYSERDA grants and state, county, and municipal subsidies and incentives for the manufacturing, sales, maintenance, and infrastructure for both recreational and commercial uses of E-bikes that include but are not limited to:

  • BOCES and other training facilities for E-bike builders, repair technicians, and sales.
  • Incentives for the development of E-bike, motor, and battery manufacturing facilities in New York
  • Dedicated bike lanes for rural and urban roads
  • Charging infrastructure and bike rental facilities at rail and bus stations and workplaces.
  • Employee incentives for use of E-bikes for commuting. Establishing a benefit that lets employers offer bike-commuting workers — those who do it regularly rather than occasionally a per month subsidy.
  • Higher tolls, congestion pricing, taxes, and incentives for the elimination of large trucks in urban centers
  • Traffic calming, street narrowing, de-paving, and xeriscaping.
  • The State working with other government divisions to change zoning to encourage and accommodate more bike friendly development patterns.
  • Multiple uses of “rail trails:”
    • Rail trails are primarily used by recreational hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.  A multi-use trail could accommodate small commercial E-bikes for cargo during certain hours and with some restrictions.
    • In many European countries bike paths, particularly in urban areas are shared with trolleys and other mass transit.  Even some of our existing rail/trails could be modified to accommodate inter-city trolley traffic along with the current uses safely.  The relatively small cost of replacing bridges and the use of self-contained battery electric rubber-tired trolleys would make this feasible.  The trails were originally designed for trains with the correct grade.

Recommendation 8: Airships and electric aircraft

Airship

Airships are relatively inexpensive, they can carry a substantial amount of cargo, and they are significantly more environmentally friendly than their heavier-than-air relatives. Once thought to have passed into memory, airships are having something of a renaissance.

  • Over a decade ago, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called specifically for cargo operators to embrace dirigibles to meet environmental targets. An airship is estimated to produce 80 to 90% fewer emissions than a conventional aircraft.

Heavy Lift Cargo Airships:

•             Made of aluminum frames- lightweight, solid, and proven
•             Vertical take-off and landing
•             Operates in strong front & cross wind conditions (50 Knots)
•             Needs NO airport infrastructure/ground crew – operates on any flat space
•             Burns 80 – 90% less fuel than equivalent aircraft
•             Flies at 150-220 mph

•             Costs 80-90% less than equivalent payload aircraft to purchase and operate
•             Rivals in cost with truck or rail (point to point)
•             At least 40 years working life expected

 Short Haul Passenger Airships, More environmentally friendly air travel:

Airship journeys would take around the same time as airplane travel once getting to and from the airport is considered, however they would be a more environmentally friendly option. The airships generate a much smaller carbon footprint than airplanes. The CO2 footprint per passenger on its airship would be about 4.5kg compared with about 53kg via jet plane. Airships are ‘ideally suited to inter-city mobility applications like Seattle to Vancouver or Buffalo to New York City, at a tiny fraction of the emissions of current air options.

With new flexible solar panels made part of the skin of the airship, and new electric motor and lightweight battery technology, not only could airship travel become a part of New York’s transportation infrastructure, but with the appropriate subsidies and incentives, manufacturers could be encouraged to relocate manufacturing to the State. 

Electric Airplanes:

Half of all global flights are shorter than 500 miles. That’s the sweet spot for electric aircraft. Fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and cheap(er) electricity means costs may fall by more than half to about $150 per hour For airlines, this makes entirely new routes now covered by car and train possible (and profitable) thanks to lower fuel, maintenance, and labor costs.

Electric propulsion nearly solves another problem for aviation: carbon emissions. Aviation emits more than 2%  of the world’s CO2 emissions, and it may reach nearly a quarter by mid-century. With no alternative fuel ready to leave the ground, and the number of air passengers set to double by 2035, electricity may offer the industry its best way forward in a climate-constrained world.

Conclusion:

As New York sails into an uncertain, but surely dangerous, climate crisis, we can move steadily away from reliance on increasingly undependable fossil fuels, giant transnational companies, and international finances.  We can build energy, food, and economic redundancies into local communities to buffer them against international and national shortages and systems collapses. We can invest in our neighborhoods and our neighbors, working together to create “too small to fail” Main Street businesses, non-profits and local governments that strive in union to serve their communities and the people.

None of this will insure us totally against the dangers ahead, but preparedness will give our state resilience and staying power. By acting now with foresight and hard work, we can care for each other, reinvesting in people and the land, creating a future for the Hudson Valley that emphasizes Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.

We can create organizational and institutional structures that are sustainable, endowed with ethical values that serve all citizens not only a privileged elite.  The emphasis will not be on blind, reckless progress at all cost, but on the creation of an equitable society that avoids resource depletion while fostering slow growth, and most importantly, hope for everyone, including the most vulnerable people and species. 

Appendix 1. Low/No Carbon Maritime Resources:

  • International Windship Association: “The International Windship Association (IWSA) facilitates and promotes wind propulsion for commercial shipping worldwide and brings together all parties in the development of a wind-ship sector to shape industry and government attitudes and policies.”
    • Fairtransport : For 10 years we have shipped cargo across the Atlantic by the power of the wind alone!
  • Hudson River Maritime Museum: The Wooden Boat School was founded by the Hudson River Maritime Museum in 2015 to preserve the maritime craft traditions of the Hudson Valley and to teach a hands-on interpretation of the living history of the Hudson River.
  • Good Work Institute: The Good Work Institute’s mission is to cultivate, connect, and support a network of local community members who are fostering resilience and regeneration in the Hudson Valley.
  • Post Carbon Institute
  • New Dawn Traders Sail Cargo Alliance: New Dawn Traders is co-creating the Sail Cargo Alliance (SCA) to support a new and growing community interested in shipping ethical cargo under sail. Beyond building viable trade for these sailing vessels, the SCA is committed to setting the highest standards for ethics across the supply chain. This is an alliance of ship owners, brokers, producers and anyone interested in working together in a healthy transport culture.
  • Drawdown: Project Drawdown gathers and facilitates a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years.
  • Low Tech Magazine : Low-tech Magazine questions the blind belief in technological progress, and talks about the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society. Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology.
  • Zero Emission Ship Technology Association: Our Mission is to prevent catastrophic climate impacts by assisting commercial shipping to reduce emissions on a steep trajectory.
  • ECOCLIPPER: We are establishing a professional shipping company that offers emission free transport and travel, by making use of engine-less sailing ships. The start-up crew combines top maritime expertise that is relevant to the sailing cargo industry, decades of experience in business development and sound management expertise.
  • Sustainable Hudson Valley: Sustainable Hudson Valley’s mission is to speed up, scale up, jazz up and leverage progress against climate change, creating communities where people and nature thrive. With a wide range of partners,
  • Revolution Rickshaws: Established in 2005, Revolution Rickshaws is a live-electric urban vehicle (LUV) systems & services enterprise based in New York City. Revolution researches, develops, and maintains LUVs in partnership with multiple world-class industry brands including Cycles Maximus, our long-time bikemobile manufacturer and collaborator, to deliver optimal goods and services to market.
  • Sail Cargo Inc.: Our mission is to prove the value of clean shipping
    • Eliminating fossil fuels from the maritime sector is achievable by using advanced technology and simple techniques. We combine innovative, clean technologies with readily-available, low-cost, natural systems to create solutions for a range of needs: from supporting vulnerable coastal communities to moving commodities at global scale.
  • Original content, curated news, and articles: The Center for Post Carbon Logistics
  • Small-Scale Sail Freight On Coastal And Inland Waters, Author Steven Woods: Sail Freight has slowly worked its way into the realm of sustainability discourse as a way of reducing emissions from transportation, providing logistical solutions using the emissions free power of the wind and technologies proven effective for over 5000 years. This attitude toward Sail Freight and transportation in general has some merits, but none of these discussions seem to have examined the issue of readopting sail freight at scale.
  • New Age of Sail looks to slash massive maritime carbon emissions: If ocean shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-largest carbon emitter, releasing more CO2 annually than Germany. International shipping accounts for about 2.2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. International Maritime Organization.
  • Industries for Small Communities, Arthur E. Morgan: Morgan’s goal, through his life’s work and in the 1953 publication specifically, was to shift the prevailing mindset regarding small-scale industry. Then, as now, what Morgan termed “bigness” was glorified and small communities were rapidly losing young people to urban centers. Still, he knew that small businesses existed across the country, and that the communities that housed them could be vibrant and fulfilling places to live.

Appendix 2.  Eriemax and Electric Clipper

Eriemax, 80’ canal, river, and coastal sail freighter, Geoff Uttmark design

Electric Clipper, 180-200’ short sea and trans-oceanic sail freighter, Derek Ellard design


[1] Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.

[2] The Council on behalf of the State must admit culpability.  The For the last fifty years the State of New York, the Governors, departments, the legislature, and its congressional representatives have had ample information, data, and scientific evidence of the impacts of a changing climate on the environment of New York, including but not limited to the impacts of  subsidies for road building over rail, urban sprawl, air and water pollution, and squandering of opportunities to mitigate or begin to adapt to the climate crisis that has been exacerbated by transportation policy and actions.

[3] The Schooner Apollonia, Eriemax/ShipShares,  The Center for Post Carbon Logistics, , Sustainable Hudson Valley, RevX, and Solar Sal Boats, Martin, Ottaway, van Hemmen &Doyle, Inc,

[4]The M-87 Route is the Hudson River, connecting commercial navigation channels such as the Erie Canal, ports, and harbors from New York City to Albany, NY. It spans eastern New York State. It connects to the M-90 Route at Albany, NY and the M-95 Route at New York City.

[5] MARAD defines a small port as a coastal seaport, Great Lakes, or inland river port to and from which the average annual tonnage of cargo handled during the 3 calendar years immediately preceding the time of application is less than 8,000,000 short tons.

[6] https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1J8PlvNw8ZvBGocHFcGX_Fj0xmy3gyn1WvveK_cb7OHE/edit#gid=899225407

[7] Yildiz, F., Coogler, K. L., & Amador, R. (2015). Conversion of a gasoline powered boat to a hybrid electric boat. Journal of Engineering Technology, 32(1), 52-63. https://www.proquest.com/openview/cfd13c6dbb26ed0fdebc07560b680916/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=32062

[8] Caprara, G., Martirano, L., & Balleta, C. (2020, June). Preliminary analysis of the conversion of a leisure boat into a battery electric vehicle (BEV). IEEE Xplore. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9160492


[i] Issues We Address:

Looking forward rationally at all the indicators, the “business as usual” choice takes us down a road to cataclysmic food and energy shortages, transportation disruption, infrastructure failure, inundation from sea level rise, financial meltdowns and its attendant social disarray.

Possible response strategies:

We do These Things

Preserve, knowledge:

  • The Center will house a traditional knowledge data base, library, and a pre/post carbon tool, technology, and machinery collection.  This activity is an ambitious effort to preserve, restore and promote the re-use of traditional skills.

Movement Building, advocacy:

  • The Center promotes maritime, and first and last mile technology necessary for moving goods and people from place to place in a carbon constrained future.
  • The Center is an advocate for existing and emerging low carbon shipping and post carbon transportation businesses and organizations.
  • The Center is an advocate for appropriately sized working waterfronts in small to mid-sized ports throughout the the Hudson Valley, NY Harbor, Canals, and the Atlantic Coast.
  • The Center advocates for a transition that people will embrace as a collective adventure, as a common journey, as something positive.   Paraphrasing the title of Transition Town Rob Hopkins’ book, The Center for Post Carbon Logistics will be the embodiment of the “Power of Just Doing Stuff.”

Train, individuals and organizations:

  • Partnering with other enterprises and organizations The Center will provide a physical place where professional practitioners and apprentices can participate in theory and practice workshops for preserving the skills of the past to serve the future
  • The Center will host regional, national, and international conferences on post carbon logistics, traditional skills, and sail freight
  • The Center will provide educational opportunities and creative, implementable, real world solutions to the 21st century environmental, economic, and social crises enabling people to work locally to transition our communities and bio-region away from a fossil fuel-based economy to a “restorative economy,” one that is human-scaled, embraces alternative locally based energy, and that is less extractive.

[ii] Green Shipping Corridor:

In April 2022 the US Department of State put out a Fact Sheet, Green Shipping Corridors.  That said in part:

In support of the effort to achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, and in support of the effort to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions from the international shipping sector by the same year, the United States is charting a course to advance domestic and international green shipping corridors.

[iii] This PC3PL providers is a vital part of maritime based supply chain management. 

  • Procurement:  ordering and receiving goods from purveyors in the supply chain. 
    • Order fulfillment and Consolidation: Receiving an order from customers and arranging for the orders to be completed and shipped.[iii] PC3PL will combine goods from multiple shipments into one shipment so they can be transported together.
    • Storage: Providing temporary storage for goods in warehouses or similar facilities.
    • Transportation and Distribution:[iii] Arranging for consolidation, management, and transportation of goods from the producer, to the first and last mile provider, drayage[iii] to and from a temporary storage or warehouse to the water-based transport of goods and point of destination. 
    • Moving goods between methods of transport

To support this new logistics model certain data, need to be collected and analyzed based on previous and anticipated activities, this information includes but is not limited to:

PC3PL will also offer a range of supplementary services including IT, inventory management, and reverse logistics,[iii] and tracking of goods using GPS and Internet of Things (IoT) devices

[iv]The Marine Byways and Resilient Small Port Toolkit products will include but not be limited to:

  1. A review and analysis of the pros and cons of previous short sea and Hudson River maritime cargo transport projects including the Vermont Sail Freight ProjectAlbany Express Barge service, The Hudson River Corridor Foodway Project, and the project cargo business of the NY State Marine Highways Co.  
  2.  A compendium of pier/dock/bulkhead and navigation conditions, using field checks, existing and new photographs, and satellite images
  3. A review of New York City’s “Delivering Green” Plan to determine the location of appropriately sized small ship docks and piers, and accessibility for low/no carbon first and last mile logistics providers.
  4. Make available, existing and newly created GIS maps and charts of small and medium sized ports throughout the M-87 Marine Highway System for the use of mariners and port operators
  5.  port gazetteers[iv]
  6. Financing for port improvements
  7. Guidance for local communities to develop working waterfront zoning, deed restrictions, and easements
  8. links to sustainability and resilience resources.  
  9. links to local and regional naval architects, shipbuilders, and boat yards, as a resource for sail cargo and solar ferry entrepreneurs and public agencies with an interest in low/no carbon water transport of goods and people.
  10. A compendium of local, state, and federal agencies and what assistance they offer, and sources of funding for:
    1. planning assistance for small port improvements for low/no carbon commercial freight and passenger vessels.
    1. Assistance in the creation of working waterfront inventories
    1. Protecting existing working waterfronts through land conservation, easements, and deed restrictions.
    1. Building waterfront EV charging stations including electric boat and ship hook ups 
    1. Accommodate existing or potential low/no carbon first and last mile logistics providers, storage, and warehousing
    1.  Develop waterfront recreation compatible with port operations
    1. climate resilience projects, retreat strategies,
    1. wetlands and benthic habitat restoration/adaptation strategies,
    1. and sample Zoning ordinances to assist small port and riverfront towns to retain their water dependent businesses and ecological services. 

[v] NYMTC Resiliency Planning

 NYMTC Freight Planning

NYMTC Sustainability Planning

NYMTC Regional Freight Report  

Delivering Green, a NYC sustainable freight plan

Final UCTC Year 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan

Kingston NY Climate Action Plan 2030

NY DEC Climate Action Plan

(Mid) Hudson Regional Climate Action Strategy

Rondout Riverport 2040

Kingston, NY’s Weaving the Waterfront

Scenic Hudson Sea Level Rise Reports,

NY State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program

National Working Waterfront Network

 Sustainable Working Waterfronts Toolkit 

financial and port and docking information gathered by the Schooner Apollonia’s multi-port cargo operation,

interviews with local, county, state, and federal transportation, and economic development agency officials,

materials developed by non-governmental organizations,

navigation, port, and logistics information from contemporary and historic sources (including the Hudson River Maritime Museum Collections)  

Interviews with farmers, food processors, brewers, distillers, and small local manufacturers, makers, and logistics providers

interviews with local, county, state, and federal transportation, agriculture, and economic development officials,

materials developed by non-governmental organizations,

navigation, port, and logistics information from contemporary and historic sources  

[vi] DRT a form of shared private or quasi-public transport for groups traveling where vehicles alter their routes each journey based on particular transport demand without using a fixed route or timetabled journeys. These vehicles typically pick-up and drop-off passengers in locations according to passengers needs and can include taxis, buses or other vehicles.

One of the most widespread types of demand-responsive transport (DRT) is to provide a public transport service in areas of low passenger demand where a regular bus service is not considered to be financially viable, such as rural and peri-urban areas. 

[vii] Electric Trains vs. Diesel Trains:

Though trains are more efficient than trucks, not all trains are equally efficient. Diesel-powered trains transfer about 30-35 percent of the energy generated by combustion to the wheels, while supplying electricity directly from an overhead powerline transfer about 95 percent of the energy to the wheels. Powering trains with electricity rather than diesel has several other benefits.

  • While prices of diesel fuel are currently low, many analysts predict that the long-term trend is for those prices to increase. Conversely, prices of electricity are falling with the fast-growing use of renewable energy sources. Even at current prices, with the energy conversion rates mentioned above, it is estimated that it is 50 percent less expensive to power a train by electricity than by diesel.
  • The cost of electric locomotive engines is about 20 percent less than diesel locomotive engines on the global market, and maintenance costs are 25-35 percent less than for diesel engines.
  • Eliminating diesel-powered locomotives would reduce air pollution including soot, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur oxides, all of which affect public health as well as the environment. This is especially important as many railroads pass through urban areas. It would also reduce noise levels in cities, as well as traffic deaths due to trucks (rail freight causes only about one-eighth as many fatalities as truck freight per ton-mile).
  • Switching from diesel to electricity would also help address the challenge of replacing petroleum-based liquid transportation fuels with cleaner alternatives as we seek to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.

[viii] Are solar trains feasible?

In research focused on providing solar power to electric trains, it is enlightening how efficient this transportation mode can really be.  Electric trains are 50 percent to 75 percent less polluting than single-passenger cars and trucks and use comparably less energy per passenger-mile, according to a 2009 detailed analysis by Chester and Horvath.

Electric trains are so efficient that a single 300-watt solar panel (about 4×6 feet) can provide up to 7,000 miles of an individual’s commuting miles per year, or 5 to 20 miles per day. The national average, based on National Transportation Database data on the efficiency of the various U.S. electric train systems, is about 4,000 miles per year for each 300-watt solar panel. One mile of train tracks can support 1 megawatt to 3 megawatts of solar panels, which can provide 2 million and 6 million passenger-miles of train travel.

Wind power is another obvious option for powering electric trains with on-site renewables — where there are strong wind resources. Distributed wind has not taken off in the U.S. anywhere near to the degree that distributed solar has, but it could be a viable option in many circumstances, particularly where there are state rebates to offset the cost of wind turbines. Wind power in desirable locations is still cheaper than power from solar panels and can also complement solar power by producing power at night.

How to design a sailing ship for the 21st century?

Re-posted with permission from Kris De Decker and Low-tech Magazine

Most images: Alan Villiers collection.

It is surprisingly difficult to build a carbon neutral sailing ship. This is even more the case today, because our standards for safety, health, hygiene, comfort, and convenience have changed profoundly since the Age of Sail.

On board the ship `Garthsnaid’ at sea. A view from high up in the rigging. Image by Allan C. Green, circa 1920. 

The sailing ship is a textbook example of sustainability. For at least 4,000 years, sailing ships have transported passengers and cargo across the world’s seas and oceans without using a single drop of fossil fuels. If we want to keep travelling and trading globally in a low carbon society, sailing ships are the obvious alternative to container ships, bulk carriers, and airplanes.

However, by definition, the sailing ship is not a carbon neutral technology. For most of history, sailing ships were built from wood, but back then whole forests were felled for ships, and those trees often did not grow back. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, sailing ships were increasingly made from steel, which also has a significant carbon footprint.

The carbon neutrality of sailing in the 21st century is even more elusive. That’s because we have changed profoundly since the Age of Sail. Compared to our forebears, we have higher demands in terms of safety, comfort, convenience, and cleanliness. These higher standards are difficult to achieve unless the ship also has a diesel engine and generator on-board.

The revival of the sailing ship

The sailing ship has seen a modest revival in the last decade, especially for the transportation of cargo. In 2009, Dutch company Fairtransport started shipping freight between Europe and the Americas with the Tres Hombres, a sailing ship built in 1943. The company remains active today and has a second ship in service since 2015, the Nordlys (built in 1873).

Since then, others have joined the sail cargo business. In 2016, the German company Timbercoast started shipping cargo with the Avontuur, a ship built in 1920. [1] In 2017, the French Blue Schooner Company started transporting cargo between Europe and the Americas with the Gallant, a sailing ship that was built in 1916. [2] All these sailing ships were constructed in the twentieth or nineteenth century, and were restored at a later date. However, a revival of sail cannot rely on historical ships alone, because there’s not enough of them. [3]

The Noach, built in 1857.

At the moment, there are at least two sailing ships in development that are being built from scratch: the Ceiba and the EcoClipper500. The first ship is being constructed in Costa Rica by a company named Sailcargo. She is built from wood and inspired by a Finnish ship from the twentieth century. The second ship is designed by a company called EcoClipper, which is led by one of the founders of the Dutch FairTransport, Jorne Langelaan. Their EcoClipper500 is a steel replica of a Dutch clipper ship from 1857: the Noach.

“Old designs are not necessarily the best”, says Jorne Langelaan, “but whenever proven design is used, one can be sure of its performance. A new design is more of a gamble. Furthermore, in the 20th and 21st century, sailing technology developed for fast sailing yachts, which is an entirely different story compared to ships which need to be able to carry cargo.”

More economical sailing ships

These two ships – one under construction and one in the design phase – have the potential to make sail cargo a lot more economical than it is today. That’s because they have a much larger cargo capacity than the sailing ships currently in operation. As a ship becomes longer, her cargo capacity increases more than proportionally.

The Eco-Clipper

The 46 metre long Ceiba is powered by 580 m2 of sails and carries 250 tonnes of cargo. The 60 metre long EcoClipper500 is powered by almost 1,000 m2 of sails and takes 500 tonnes of cargo. For comparison, the Tres Hombres is not that much shorter at 32 metres, but she takes only 40 tonnes of cargo – twelve times less than the EcoClipper500. A larger ship is also faster and saves labour. The Tres Hombres requires a crew of seven, while the EcoClipper500 only has a slightly larger crew of twelve.

Life cycle analysis of a sailing ship

Although the EcoClipper500 is still in the design phase, she will be the focus of this article. This is because the company conducted a life cycle analysis of the ship prior to building it. [9] As far as I know, this is the first life cycle analysis of a sailing ship ever made. The study reveals that it takes around 1,200 tonnes of carbon to build the ship.

Half of those emissions are generated during steel production, and roughly one third is generated by steel working processes and other shipyard activities. Solvent-based paints as well as electric and electronic systems each account for roughly 5% of emissions. The emissions produced during the manufacturing of the sails are not included because there are no scientific data available, but a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation (for sails based on aramid fibres) signals that their contribution to the total carbon footprint is very small. [4]

The EcoClipper500 has a carbon footprint of  2 grammes of CO2 per tonne-kilometre, which is five times less than the carbon footprint of a container ship.

If these 1,200 tonnes of emissions are spread out over an estimated lifetime of 50 years, then the EcoClipper500 would have a carbon footprint of about 2 grammes of CO2 per tonne-kilometre of cargo, concludes researcher Andrew Simons, who made the life cycle analysis for the ship. This is roughly five times less than the carbon footprint of a container ship (10 grammes CO2/tonne-km) and three times less than the carbon footprint of a bulk-carrier (6 grammes CO2/tonne-km). [5]

Looking aft from aloft on the ‘Parma’ while at anchor. Alan Villiers, 1932-33. Villiers’s work vividly records the period of early 20th century maritime history when merchant sailing vessels or ‘tall ships’ were in rapid decline.

Transporting one ton of cargo over a distance of 8,000 km (roughly the distance between the Caribbean and the Netherlands) would thus produce 16 kg of carbon with the EcoClipper500, compared to 80 kg on a container ship and 48 kg on a bulk carrier. The proportions are similar for other environmental factors, such as ozone depletion, ecotoxicity, air pollution, and so on.

Although the sailing ship boasts a convincing advantage, it may not be as big as you might have expected. First, as Simons explains, there’s scale. A container ship or bulk carrier enjoys the same benefits over the EcoClipper500 as the EcoClipper500 enjoys over the Tres Hombres. It can take a lot more cargo – on average 50,000 tonnes instead of 500 tonnes – and it needs only a slightly larger crew of 20-25 people. [6]

Second, fossil fuel powered ships are faster than sailing ships, meaning that fewer ships are needed to transport a given amount of cargo over a given period of time. The original ship on which the EcoClipper500 is based, sailed between the Netherlands and Indonesia in 65 to 78 days, while a container ship does it in about half the time (taking the short cut through the Suez canal).

Building a fleet of sailing ships

There’s two ways to further lower the carbon emissions of sailing ships in comparison to container ships and bulk carriers. One is to build ships from wood instead of steel, such as the Ceiba. If the harvested trees are allowed to grow back (which the makers of the Ceiba have promised), such a ship may even be considered a carbon sink.

However, there’s a good reason why the EcoClipper500 will be made from steel: the company’s aim is to build not just one ship, but a fleet of them. Jorne Langelaan: “There are few shipyards who can deliver wooden ships nowadays. Steel makes it easier to build a fleet in a shorter period.”

A possible compromise would be a composite construction, in which a steel skeleton is clad with timber keel, planks, and deck. Andrew Simons: “This would reduce the carbon footprint of construction by half. It could also be feasible to make superstructures and some of the mast sections and spars from timber instead of steel.”

Driving sprays over the main deck of the ‘Parma’. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

Towards the future, another possibility to further decrease a sailings ship’s emissions per tonne-km is to build it even larger. While the EcoClipper500 has much more cargo capacity than the cargo sailing ships now in operation, she is far from the largest sailing ship ever built.

Historical ships such as the Great Republic (5,000 tonnes), the Parma (5,300 tonnes), the France II (7,300 tonnes), and the Preussen (7,800 tonnes), were more than 100 metres long and could take more than ten times the freight capacity of the EcoClipper500. Langelaan already dreams of a EcoClipper3000.

Passengers

Most cargo sailing ships travelling across the oceans today can also take some passengers. Fully loaded with cargo, the EcoClipper500 takes 12 crew members, 12 passengers, and 8 trainees (passengers who learn how to sail). If the upper hold deck is not used for cargo, another 28 trainees can join, so that the ship can take up to 60 people on board (with a smaller cargo volume: 480 m3 instead of 880 m3).

The carbon footprint for passengers amounts to 10 g per passenger-km, compared to roughly 100 g per passenger-km on an airplane.

Consequently, and since ocean liners have disappeared, the EcoClipper500 also becomes an alternative to the airplane. According to the results of the life cycle analysis, the carbon footprint for passengers on the EcoClipper500 amounts to 10 grammes per passenger-kilometre, compared to roughly 100 grammes per passenger-kilometre on an airplane. Transporting one passenger thus produces as much carbon emissions as transporting 1 tonne of freight.

Engine or not?

Importantly, the life cycle analysis of the EcoClipper500 assumes that there is no diesel engine on-board. On a sailing ship, a diesel engine can serve two purposes, which can be combined. First, it allows to propel the ship when there is no wind or when sails cannot be used, for example when leaving or entering a harbour. Second, combined with a generator, a diesel engine can produce electricity for daily life on board of the ship.

For most of history, energy use on-board of a sailing ship was not too problematic. There was firewood for cooking and heating, and there were candles and oil lamps for lighting. There were no refrigerators for food storage, no showers or laundry machines for washing and cleaning, no electronic instruments for navigation and communication, no electric pumps in case of leaks or fire.

However, we now have higher standards in terms of safety, health, hygiene, thermal comfort, and convenience. The problem is that these higher standards are difficult to achieve when the ship does not have an engine that runs on fossil fuels. Modern heating systems, cooking devices, hot water boilers, refrigerators, freezers, lighting, safety equipment, and electronic instruments all need energy to work.

Crewman of the ‘Parma’ with a model of his ship. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

Modern sailing ships often use a diesel engine to provide that energy (and to propel the ship if necessary). An example is the Avontuur from Timbercoast, who has an engine of 300 HP, a 20 kW generator, and a fuel tank of 2,330 litres. Large sail training vessels and cruising ships have several engines and generators on-board. For example, the 48m long Brig Morningster has a 450 HP engine and three generators with a total capacity of 100 kW, while the 56m long Bark Europa has two 365 HP engines with three generators – and burns hundreds of litres of oil per day.

Depending on the lifestyle of the people on board, the emissions per passenger-km may rise to, or surpass, the levels of those of an airplane.

Obviously, the emissions and other pollutants of these engines need to be taken into account when the environmental footprint of a sail trip is calculated. Depending on the lifestyle of the people on board, the emissions per passenger-km may rise to, or surpass, the levels of those of an airplane. To a lesser extent, electricity use on-board also increases the emissions of cargo transportation.

Energy use on board a sailing ship

The EcoClipper500 has no diesel engine on board, which is a second reason to focus on this ship. Obviously, a sailing ship without an engine cannot proceed her voyage when there’s no wind. This is easily solved in the old-fashioned way: the EcoClipper500 stays where she is until the wind returns. A ship without an engine also needs tug boats – which usually burn fossil fuels – to get in and out of ports. For the EcoClipper500, these tug services account for 0.3 g/tkm of the total carbon footprint of 2 g/tkm.

Without a diesel engine, the ship also needs to generate all energy for use on board from local energy sources, and this is the hard part. Renewable energy is intermittent and has low power density compared to fossil fuels, meaning that more space is needed to generate a given amount of power – which is more problematic at sea than it is on land.

Renewing caulking on the poop of the ‘Parma’. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

To make the EcoClipper500 self-sufficient in terms of energy use, a first design decision was to shift energy use away from electricity whenever possible. This is especially important for high temperature heat, which cannot be supplied by electric heat pumps. The ship will have a pellet-stove on board to provide space heating, as well as a biodigester – never before used on a ship – to convert human and kitchen waste into gas for cooking. Thermal insulation of the ship is another priority.

Nevertheless, even with pellet-stove and biodigester (which themselves require electricity to operate), and with thermal insulation, energy demand on the ship can be as high as 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day (2 kW average power use). This concerns a “worst-case normal operation” scenario, when the ship is sailing in cold weather with 60 people on board. Power use will be lower in warmer weather and/or when less people are taken. During an emergency, the power requirements can amount to 8 kW, while more than 24 kWh of energy can be needed in just three hours.

Hydrogenerators

How to produce this power? Solar panels and wind turbines are only a small part of the solution. Producing 50 kWh of energy per day would require at least 100 square metres of solar panels, for which there is little space on a 60 m long sailing ship. Vulnerability and shading by the sails make for further problems. Wind turbines can be attached in the rigging, but their power output is also limited. The low potential of solar and wind power are demonstrated by the earlier mentioned sailing ship Avontuur. She has a 20 kW generator, powered by the diesel engine, but only 2.1 kW of solar panels and 0.8 kW of wind turbines.

The hydrogenerator is the only renewable power source that can provide a large sailing ship with enough energy for the use of modern technology on board. Hydrogenerators are attached underneath the hull and work in the opposite way as a ship’s propeller. Instead of the propeller powering the ship, the ship powers the propeller, which turns a generator that produces electricity. In spite of its name and appearance, the hydrogenerator is actually a form of wind energy: the sails power the propellers. Obviously, this only works when the ship is sailing fast enough.

Furling sail on the main yard of the Parma. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

The EcoClipper500 will be equipped with two large hydrogenerators, for which Simons calculated the power output at different speeds, taking into account the fact that the extra drag they produce slows down the ship somewhat. He concludes that the EcoClipper500 needs to sail at a speed of at least 7.5 knots to generate enough electricity. At that speed, the hydrogenerators produce an estimated 2,000 watts of power, which converts to roughly 50 kWh of electricity per day (24 hours of sailing).

At a lower speed of 4.75 knots, the generators produce 350 watts, which comes down to 8.4 kWh of energy over a period of 24 hours – only 1/6th of the maximum required energy. On the other hand, at higher speeds, the hydrogenerators produce more energy than necessary. At a speed of almost 10 knots they provide 120 kWh/day, at a speed of 12 knots this becomes 182 kWh/day – 3.5 times more than needed.

Saltwater batteries

According to her hull speed, the EcoClipper500 will be able to sail a little over 16 knots at absolute top speed – this is double the minimum speed required to generate enough power. Achieving this speed will be rare, because it needs calm seas and strong winds from the right direction. Nevertheless, in good wind conditions, the ship easily sails fast enough to produce all electricity for use on board.

Good wind conditions can last for days, especially on the oceans, where winds are more powerful and predictable than on land. However, they are not guaranteed, and the ship will also sail at lower speeds, or find herself in becalmed conditions – when hydrogenerators are as useless as solar panels in the middle of the night.

Because she has no engine, the EcoClipper500 faces a double problem when there’s no wind: she cannot continue her voyage, and she has no energy to maintain life on board. The first problem is easily solved but the second is not. Life on board goes on, and so there is a continued need for power. To provide this, the ship needs energy storage.

To cover the needs for three days drifting in cold weather, an energy storage of 150 kWh would be required, not taking into account charge and discharge losses. Five or seven days of energy use on-board would require 250 to 350 kWh of storage. For emergency use, another 25 kWh of energy storage is needed.

Scraping the deck onboard the ‘Parma’. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

Not having an engine, generator and fuel tank saves space on board, but this advantage can be quickly lost again when one starts to add batteries for the hydrogenerators. Lithium-ion batteries are very compact, but they cannot be considered sustainable and bring safety risks. That’s why Jorne Langelaan and Andrew Simons see more potential in – very aptly – saltwater batteries, which are non-flammable, non-toxic, easy to recycle, have wide temperature-tolerance, and can last for more than 15 years. Like the biodigester, they have never been used on a sailing ship before.

Unlike lithium-ion batteries, saltwater batteries are large and heavy. At 60 kg per kWh of storage capacity, a 150 kWh battery storage would add a weight of 9 tonnes, while a 350 kWh storage capacity would add 21 tonnes. Still, this compares favourably to the total cargo capacity (500 tonnes), and the batteries can serve as ballast if they are placed in the lower part of the ship’s hull. The space requirements are not too problematic, either. Even a 350 kWh energy storage only requires 14 to 29m3 of space, which is small compared to the 880m3 of cargo volume.

The emissions that are produced by the manufacturing of the hydrogenerators, biodigester, and batteries are not included in the life cycle analysis of the ship, because there are no data available. However, these emissions must be relatively small. Hydrogenerators have much higher power density than wind turbines, and thus a relatively low embodied energy. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation learns that the carbon footprint of 350 kWh saltwater batteries is around 70 tonnes of CO2. [7]

Human Power

There’s another renewable power source and energy storage on board of the EcoClipper, and that’s the humans themselves. Like the pellet stove and the biodigester, the use of human power could reduce the need for electricity. Nowadays, cargo ships and most large sailing ships have electric or hydraulic winches, pumps, and steering gear, saving manual labour at the expense of higher energy use. In contrast, EcoClipper sticks to manual handling of the ship as much as possible.

Crew at the capstan of the Parma, weighing anchor. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

Simons and Langelaan are also considering the addition of a few rowing machines, coupled to generators, to produce emergency power. Two rowing machines could provide roughly 400 watts of power. If they are operated around the clock in shifts, they could supply the ship with an extra 9.6 kWh of energy per day (ignoring energy losses) – one fifth of the total maximum electricity use.

In fact, as I tell Simons and Langelaan ten rowing machines operated continually in shifts would provide as much power as the hydrogenerators at a speed of 7.5 knots. If there are 60 people on board, and everybody would generate power for less than one hour per day, no hydrogenerators and batteries would be needed at all. “A very interesting thought”, answers Simons, “but what impression would we be painted with?”

Hot Showers?

Even with a biodigester, hydrogenerators, batteries, and rowing machines, the passengers and crew on board the EcoClipper500 would be far short of luxurious, and perhaps too short of comfortable for some. For example, if 60 people on board the ship would take a daily hot shower – which requires on average 2.1 kilowatt-hours of energy and 76.5 litres of water on land – total electricity use per day would be 126 kWh, more than double the energy the ship produces at a speed of 7.5 knots.

The ship could supply this energy at a higher sailing speed, but there would also be a need for 4,590 liters of water per day, a quantity that could only be produced from seawater – a process that requires a lot of energy. Even a crew of 12 taking a daily hot shower would require 25.2 kWh of energy per day, half of what the hydrogenerators produce at a sailing speed of 7.5 knots. The Bark Europa is the only sailing ship mentioned in this article that has hot showers in every (shared) cabin, but it is also the ship with the biggest generators and the highest fuel use.

On the forecastle head of the Parma in fine weather. Image by Alan Villiers, 1932.

Andrew Simons: “On the EcoClipper500 there needs to be a manageable compromise between energy use and comfort. Energy use on board will have to be actively managed. Resources are finite, just like for the planet. In many ways the ship is a microcosm of challenges that the wider world has to face and find solutions to.”

Jorne Langelaan: “At sea you are in a different world. It doesn’t matter anymore if you can take a daily shower or not. What matters are the people, the movements of the ship, and the vast wilderness of ocean around you”.

Measuring the right things

This article has compared the EcoClipper500 sailing ship with the average container ship, bulk carrier, and airplane in terms of emissions per tonne- or passenger-kilometer. However, these values are abstractions that obscure much more important information: the total emissions that are produced by all passengers and all cargo, over all kilometres.

The international ocean freight trade increased from 4 billion tonnes of cargo in 1990 to 11.2 billion tonnes in 2019, resulting in more than 1 billion tonnes of emissions. International air passenger numbers grew from 1 billion in 1990 to 4.5 billion in 2019, resulting in 915 million tonnes of emissions. Consequently, lowering the emissions per tonne- and passenger-kilometre is neither a necessity nor a guarantee for a reduction in emissions.

If we cut international cargo traffic more than fivefold, and passenger traffic more than tenfold, then the emissions of all container ships and airplanes would be lower than the emissions of all sailing ships carrying 11.2 billion tonnes of cargo and 4.5 billion of passengers. Vice versa, if we switch to sailing ships, but keep on transporting more and more cargo and passengers across the planet, we will eventually produce just as much in emissions as we do today with fossil fuel powered transportation.

The mizzen of the ‘Grace Harwar’; view aft from the main crosstrees. Alan Villiers, 1932-33.

Of course, none of this would ever happen. The amount of cargo that was traded across the oceans in 2019 equals the freight capacity of 22.4 million EcoClippers. Assuming the EcoClipper500 can make 2-3 trips per year, we would need to build and operate at least 7.5 million ships, with a total crew of at least 90 million people. Those ships could only take 0.5 billion passengers (12 passengers and 8 trainees per ship), so we would need millions of ships and crew members more to replace international air traffic.

We should not be fooled by abstract relative measurements, which only serve to keep the focus on growth and efficiency.

All of this is technically possible, and as we have seen, it would produce less in emissions than the present alternatives. However, it’s more likely that a switch to sailing ships is accompanied by a decrease in cargo and passenger traffic, and this has everything to do with scale and speed. A lot of freight and passengers would not be travelling if it were not for the high speeds and low costs of today’s airplanes and container ships.

It would make little sense to transport iPhones parts, Amazon wares, sweatshop clothes, or city trippers with sailing ships. A sailing ship is more than a technical means of transportation: it implies another view on consumption, production, time, space, leisure, and travel. For example, a lot of freight now travels in different directions for each next processing stage before it is delivered as a final product. In contrast, all sail cargo companies mentioned in this article only take cargo that cannot be produced locally, and which is one trip from producer to consumer. [8]

This also means that even if sailing ships have diesel engines on board, they would still bring a significant decrease in the total emissions for freight and passenger traffic, simply because they would reduce the absolute number of passengers, cargo, and kilometers. We should not be fooled by abstract relative measurements, which only serve to keep the focus on growth and efficiency.


Notes

[1] Between 1978 and 2004, the Avontuur was operated as sail cargo vessel under Captain Paul Wahlen. The Apollonia, originally built in 1946, is another cargo sailing ship in operation since 2014. It is 19.5 metres long and carries 10 tonnes of cargo.

[2] Very recently, Grain de Sail was buillt and launched for Trans-Atlantic shipping of wine and cocoa. She is a modern sailing ship without an engine, built from aluminium, and can take 35 tonnes of cargo.

[3] Andrew Simons: “There are plenty historical sailing ships, but either very costly to get into service as a regulatory compliant cargo vessel, because they are still used for other purposes, or not suitable.”

[4] Unfortunately the envelope got lost.

[5] In the case of the EcoClipper, most of the emissions are produced during the construction of the ship, while in the case of bulk carriers and container ships, they are mainly produced during operation and fuel production.

[6] The largest container ships now take 190,000 tonnes of cargo.

[7] There is not much data available on saltwater batteries, but they are less energy-intensive to build than many other types of batteries. The calculation is based on an estimate of 66 kg CO2/kWh of storage capacity and three generations of batteries over a period of 50 years. 

[8] Almost one third of all cargo transported are fossil fuels themselves.

[9] The study can be downloaded when you subscribe to EcoClipper’s newsletter. The research is based on a typical life cycle analysis, but note that this is not a peer reviewed study.

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