Connect with us


Brigantes Renovation Project Is Creating Next Eco-Sustainable Sail Freighter



Brigantes Ship

The project is transforming a former 1911 sailing freighter so that it can be used for ecological freight transport, releasing zero emissions through propulsion using only the wind and self-produced electricity.

This, in a nutshell, describes the “Brigantes” project, an ambitious renovation project aimed at promoting the benefits of carbon neutral shipping, and strengthening the Sail Cargo Alliance, a growing movement of eco-sustainable freighters.

The 30 meters long ship is currently being fully restored in a specialized shipyard in Trapani, Sicily. The new launch has been scheduled for 2018 at which time the reborn vessel will again sail the world seas, and one day have a chance to meet the Eye of the Wind, its world famous twin-sister ship.

A Historical Freighter Saved From Demolition

The sail freighter with the original name “META” was built in Germany in 1911 by the renowned shipyard Lühring. Its 30 meters long, 7 meters wide riveted iron hull was optimized for speed and designed to sail one of the most dangerous seas in the world: the North Atlantic. As a spoil of war to the French in 1920, it arrived in Italy in 1923 and was used for the transportation of talc from Sardinia to Livorno. In the Fifties it underwent dismantling of the sailing rig, was converted into a motorboat and renamed Onice. From 1953 it transported merchandize between the Island of Pantelleria and the mainland. In 1998 the Onice was laid up and abandoned in a corner of the harbor in Trapani. In 2016, to save it from demolition, a group of Italian-Austrian-German enthusiastic investors bought the former sailing vessel. A delicate and precise examination of the hull plates at the Da.Ro.Mar.Ci Naval Ferro Snc shipyard in Trapani revealed the surprisingly good state of conservation of the hull plates. The “third life”, the recovery of the Brigantes, the new name given to the vessel could formally start!

Why Sail Powered Shipping?

There are basically two reasons that led the Brigantes team to venture into cargo sailing. The first was the wish to revive a world long forgotten, where navigation was experienced as an art of functional traditional seamanship. The second was the desire to be part of the growing number of people who want to change things and who believe in a sustainable future, made of healthy products, fair-solidarity and responsible economy. An unusual economic concept, intriguing and authentic.

How To Participate In The Project

Anyone can become part of the Brigantes project, offering sponsorships, materials, equipment, instrumentation, or even volunteer labor. Yet the strongest form of participation will be the acquisition of a limited number of ownership shares bearing the certainty of becoming part of a pioneering adventure and a small marine freight revolution (contact via for details). Large companies or associations committed to environmental protection and a sustainable economy may avail of Brigantes to transport their products or foods. The propulsion system on board, in addition to the sails, will consist of an electric motor combined to a solar / wind power plant. This is a unique opportunity for these companies to support a real sustainable alternative to “traditional” transport and demonstrate consistency with its own business philosophy.

A School Of Vocational Training For Sailors

In addition to delivering zero-emission goods between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Brigantes will offer anyone the opportunity to learn how to navigate on a traditional sailing ship. In turns, up to ten passengers will be accepted on board for a unique sailing experience. The berths will be housed in a community room, intentionally promoting an environment akin to the ancient tradition of sailing. The seven crew members as well as the captain will be available to share and explain the secrets of sailing manoeuvers needed to conduct Brigantes on the high seas. Yet the ship will also offer the opportunity to embark as “simple” paying guest and participate in international events, maritime festivals, historical regattas and any activity that might help raise awareness for the noble purpose of this project.

The Twin Sister Ship: ‘Eye Of The Wind’

To best understand what Brigantes will eventually look like, just take a look at the “Eye of the Wind”, the twin-ship built in the same yard. Christened as Friedrich, after the name of the longtime Friedrich Kolb who commissioned the construction of the ship, it was launched in 1911, three months before the Brigantes. In 1970, after a devastating fire, the ship was rescued by a group of young enthusiasts led by Anthony “Tiger” Timbs, who turned it into one of the most famous brigs in the world. The Vessel was in fact used as a floating set for movies such as “Blue Lagoon” with Brooke Shields, “Tai-Pan” and “The White Squall” by Ridley Scott. Today Eye of the Wind continues to cruise the seas of the globe.

The Team

For the financing of the project the Brigantes Shipping company, owner of the ship and initiator of the venture has been inspired by the historical model of the “Partenreederei”, where investors become co-owner of the company and as a consequence co-owners of the ship. This financing model was frequently used in the last centuries in the sailing business in Northern Europe and is very similar to what we today would call crowdfunding. The protagonists of this extraordinary adventure are Oscar Kravina, professional boat builder and (project coordinator), the German engineer Tobias Blome, naval engineer and advisor to companies in the maritime sector, Daniel Kravina, entrepreneur and administrator of the company, and the Italian Giuseppe Ferreri, marine captain who began his own career on board of the Onice back when the ship was transporting goods between Sicily and the island of Pantelleria. He will eventually be entrusted with the command of the Brigantes. The design of the refit will respect the entity classification regulations by RINA (Italian Shipping Register), one of the most recognized navigational logs from the IACS (International Association of Classification Societies).



New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


Continue Reading


5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

Continue Reading