5 minutes with...      Jorne Langelaan, founder and Captain of EcoClippper

5 minutes with... Jorne Langelaan, founder and Captain of EcoClippper

Jorne Langelaan EcoClipper

Studies show that our maritime industry emits around 940million tonnes of CO2 annually, over 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Capt. Jorne Langelaan and his team at Ecoclipper are working towards emission free, engine-less sailing ships to transport goods around the world.

 In the first of new series '5 minutes with...' our crewmate, Famke, spoke with Jorne to find out more about the EcoClipper and why wind power could again be the future of shipping…

First things first- how did Jorne get inspired to ship cargo more sustainably?

“After ‘sailing’ on motor cargo vessels for a few years, in the 90’s, I found my true calling on the sail cargo vessel Avontuur. Back in those days this vessel was still commanded by the famous Capt. Paul Wahlen, while operated in the inter-island trade in the Caribbean. This master mariner taught me about many aspects of the environmental pressure caused by shipping. Later on, I sailed as chief officer on the Bark EUROPA while engaged in expeditions to Antarctica. Here I heard first-hand and saw with my own eyes the effects of climate chaos.”

When he finished Enkhuizen Nautical College in the Netherlands, Jorne sailed in all ranks, from ships-boy to eventually Ship’s Captain on many different types of ships, but mainly sailing vessels. 

"[A] master mariner taught me about many aspects of the environmental pressure caused by shipping...engaged in expeditions to Antartica I heard first-hand and saw with my own eyes the effects of climate chaos."

With an international team of designers and partners, Jorne introduced the EcoClipper500 prototype. This is a Dutch start-up sustainable shipping company, founded in 2018, with the aim of creating a modern day logistics system that takes our natural world into account.The aim of EcoClipper is to develop and operate a fleet of innovative sailing ships offering emission-free transport and travel worldwide. 


EcoClipper emissions free shipping


“EcoClipper ships will sail on four shipping lines with fixed schedules, thereby creating a new shipping logistics system for emission free sail cargo passenger vessels” adds Jorne.

Shipping, and cargo shipping in particular, is a sector that has a huge impact on our environment. One of the biggest problems is the heavy fuel oil used on these ships which is especially harmful for the environment and people.  

Over the years, technologies to remove harmful components of the fuel have been refined, but it  only removes a small portion of the harmful substances which still end up in our air and seas. These technologies also come with a great cost, just like the more cleaner alternatives. 

Another huge impact that shipping has on our seas is noise. When an engine is running, it creates underwater noises. The impact of these noises on the environment may be less visibly obvious but hugely disorder our ecosystems below water. Quiet oceans are relied upon by many species to communicate with each other and sound-out their environments, namely whales and dolphins. Noise pollution from shipping and marine activity has also been shown to cause wash ups on beaches and in shallow waters, as well as disrupted breeding behaviours and in other cases, deaths. 

Add up all the individual ships together in the industry and it causes a significant amount of pollution.  Thousands and thousands of cargo ships are sailing around the world transporting goods every day, from cars to chemicals. These days, shipping goods is extremely cheap and therefore economically attractive, but it creates a huge burden on our environment. With shipping goods around the world being low cost, in comparison to other forms of goods transportation, this too has an impact on our consumption behavior; the speed at which we receive consumer products and at what price. Big companies can easily move to low-wage countries taking advantage of the low cost of producing products and being able to ship these products, at a low cost, all the way back around the world. 

“Using wind power as propulsion for cargo and/or passenger ships, is the only (so far) proven way of transporting or traveling emission free over long distances at sea.”

The impact of current cargo shipping and the industry as a whole is bigger than the damage caused by ships themselves - it does not end at the polluting materials that are used onboard to run them. Current cargo shipping is not only a huge burden on the environment, but it also has an impact on industries and economies around the world. 

And this is where initiatives like EcoClipper could play a big role. But why should the answer be sailing cargo ships? 

We asked Jorne about it:

“Using wind power as propulsion for cargo and/or passenger ships, is the only (so far) proven way of transporting or traveling emission free over long distances at sea.”

A startup like EcoClipper cannot turn the industry back on its own, but we can participate and be part of the transition that is now taking place to a more sustainable way of producing, transporting and consuming."

The EcoClipper team is now developing and designing the first prototype of a cargo sailing ship that connects the continents in a completely emission-free way. Because of the aim and mission of the team, they are focused on innovative solutions to be able to design a completely emission free ship. For example, they look at alternative ways to generate renewable energy, such as bio digesters, hydro and wind turbines, plus solar panels.

EcoClipper shipping routes


By sailing, you depend on the wind as a force by nature, so one also needs to find ways to have enough energy when the wind has died down and the sun is not shining. 

In the next 5 years, EcoClipper plans to build ten more ships and eventually put several more into service on the routes between Europe, America and Asia, shipping goods in a sustainable way all around the world.

They are now working on designing the EcoClipper500 prototype. All ships will be built according to this design.  

“In a perfect sustainable future” said Jorne “everything would be produced locally when possible and only goods which cannot be produced locally, because of climatic or geographic reasons, would still be transported. This transport ought to be emission free and sustainable, preferably by elegant sailing vessels.”

The future is promising due to inspiring projects such as EcoClipper, which in its own way contributes to a major step towards making the shipping industry cleaner and more sustainable.




If you are interested in partnering with EcoClipper by having your goods shipped by sail, traveling emission-free onboard an EcoClipper ship, or are interested in investing in the project, head to https://ecoclipper.org/