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Wind-powered Dutch ship sets sail for greener future

Wind-powered Dutch ship sets sail for greener future

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Wind-powered Dutch ship sets sail for greener future

The world’s first chemical tanker ship fitted with massive rigid aluminium “sails” has left Rotterdam, its owner hoping to plot a route to bringing down the shipping industry’s huge carbon footprint.

The MT Chemical Challenger, a 16,000-tonne chemicals transporter set sail from Antwerp for Istanbul on Friday, and will undergo sea trials along the way.

Built in Japan and kitted out with four giant 16-metre-high (52 foot, 6 inch) sails similar to aircraft wings, the tanker’s owners hope to cut fuel consumption by 10 to 20 percent as the sails will allow the ship’s captain to throttle back on the engine.

“As an avid sailor myself, I have been thinking for a long time how we can make our industry more sustainable,” said Niels Grotz, chief executive of Chemship, which operates a fleet of chemical tanker vessels mainly between US ports in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Mediterranean.

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“Today we launch our first wind-assisted chemical tanker, which we hope will serve as an example to the rest of the world,” Grotz told AFP at the ship’s unveiling.

Global shipping — which burns diesel and other bunker fuels — contributed around 2.0 percent of the world’s carbon emissions in 2022, the International Energy Agency said.

New guidelines by the International Maritime Organisation said shipping emissions needed to be cut by at least 40 percent by 2030 and down to zero by around 2050 if the Paris Climate Accords are to be achieved.

“Shipping has always been extremely competitive and it will be a struggle to reach these targets,” admitted Grotz, who added the company was unlikely to “make money” on its latest project.

“But we have to bring down CO2 emissions — and we decided we’re not just going to sit and wait for something magical to happen.”

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“With the sails on this ship we’re expecting a yearly reduction of some 850 tonnes. That’s the same output as around 500 cars annually,” Chemship added in a statement.

Pulling power

Grotz said the project to put sails on one of his chemical tankers — with others to follow — came when he and Dutch company Econowind, which specialises in building wind propulsion systems for ships, first put their heads together three years ago.

Last week the installation of the four sails was completed while the Chemical Challenger lay dockside in Rotterdam’s massive sprawling harbour.

Although not the first modern ship to be kitted out with rigid sails — last year British firm Cargill put a wind-assisted cargo ship to sea for instance — Chemship said their Chemical Challenger is the world’s first chemical tanker ship with sails.

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Built similar to an aeroplane wing, the rigid aluminium sails are equipped with a system of vents and holes to maximise airflow in winds of up to 61 kilometres (33 knots, 38 miles).

“This system called a ‘ventilated wingsail’ increases the wind’s power by five times — and gives the same power as an imaginary sail of around 30 by 30 metres,” said Rens Groot, sales manager at Econowind.

‘Modern day sailors’

Groot told AFP the installation of modern-day rigid sails on massive ships harked back to a time when sailing was the only way to move across the oceans.

Sails on ships are also reopening long-forgotten routes that fell out of favour as steam and fuel replaced wind power.

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“Once again, modern-day ‘sailors’ will have to look for the wind, for instance along the Brouwer route,” Groot said, referring to a sailing route around the Cape of Good Hope, first pioneered by Dutch explorer Hendrik Brouwer around 1611.

That route dips into the so-called “Roaring Forties” across the Indian Ocean before snaking north again along the Australian west coast to Asia.

It became compulsory a few years later for captains employed by the Dutch East India company on their way to the Netherlands’ colonies in today’s Indonesia.

“We are trying to find a way to bring nature back into technology,” said Groot. “Suddenly, you can feel a ship sailing again — just like in the olden days,” Groot said. 

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Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

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Apple CEO says looking into possibility of building manufacturing facility in Indonesia

Apple Inc will look into the possibility of building a manufacturing facility in Indonesia, its CEO said on Wednesday after meeting President Joko Widodo.

Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday, after visiting Vietnam. He met with Jokowi, as the president popularly known, and will be inaugurating an academy for Apple developers on the island of Bali.

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country, and it is something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after the meeting. 

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, AirPods and Apple Watches in Vietnam and suppliers for MacBooks are also investing in the country.

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Apple has no manufacturing facilities in Indonesia but has established four Apple Developer Academies.

Indonesia has a huge tech-savvy population, making the Southeast Asian nation a key target market for tech-related investment.

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TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

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TikTok quizzed by EU on TikTok Lite launch in France, Spain

ByteDance’s TikTok has been given 24 hours to provide a risk assessment on its new app TikTok Lite launched this month in France and Spain on concerns of its potential impact on children and users’ mental health, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

The move by EU industry chief Thierry Breton under EU tech rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) comes two months after he opened an investigation into TikTok over possible DSA breaches. 

The landmark DSA requires companies to do more to tackle illegal and harmful content on their platforms, with fines of up to 6% of their global annual turnover for violations.

The Commission on Wednesday said it had sent a request for information to TikTok, asking for more details on the risk assessment the social media company should have done before deploying TikTok Lite in the 27-country European Union.

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“This concerns the potential impact of the new ‘Task and Reward Lite’ programme on the protection of minors, as well as on the mental health of users, in particular in relation to the potential stimulation of addictive behaviour,” the EU executive said in a document seen by Reuters.

“TikTok must provide the risk assessment for TikTok Lite in 24 hours and the other requested information by 26 April 2024, after which the Commission will analyse TikTok’s reply, and then assess next steps.”

The Commission also asked for details on measures the company has put in place to mitigate systemic risks.

TikTok Lite, an app with a new functionality aimed at users aged 18+, was launched in France and Spain this month.

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SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

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SiTime introduces chip aimed at saving power in AI data centers

SiTime (SITM.O) on Wednesday introduced a chip that it says is designed to help data centers built for artificial intelligence applications run more efficiently.

SiTime makes what are known as timing chips, whose job is set a steady beat for all the parts of a computer and keep them running together in sync, like a conductor in an orchestra directing multiple groups of instruments. The company says its new line of chips, called Chorus, can do so with 10 times more precision than older styles of timing chips.

SiTime CEO Rajesh Vashist said the company aims to help customers save electricity with that precision. SiTime’s chips themselves require less than a watt of power, but powerful AI chips such as Nvidia’s (NVDA.O) require more than 1,000 watts of power.

With a more precise clock to keep all the elements of a computer in sync, parts of the machine can be turned off for a few milliseconds at a time when they are not in use. Over the multiple years a power-hungry data center server might be in use, it can generate energy savings, though the amount will depend on how SiTime’s chips are used.

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“We deliver timing that they can rely on so that they can wake up their products and bring data more efficiently to them, rather than just running more often,” Vashist said in an interview.

SiTime said the chips will be available in the second half of this year.

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