Abstract International shipping transports around 90% of global commerce and is of major importance for the global economy. Whilst it is the most efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transport, CO2 emissions from shipping activities still account for an estimated 3% of global emissions. One means of significantly reducing fuel consumption and thereby GHG emissions from shipping are wind propulsion technologies (i.e. towing kites, Flettner rotors and sails) – yet current market uptake is very low. Therefore, the aim of this article is to identify the barriers and drivers for the uptake of wind propulsion technologies. To this end, the theoretical approach of technological innovation systems is adopted. This approach combines structural system components with so-called system functions which represent the dynamics underlying structural changes in the system. The fulfillment of these functions is considered important for the development and diffusion of innovations. Based on newspaper and academic articles, online expert interviews and semi-structured interviews, the level of function fulfillment is evaluated, followed by the identification of structural drivers and barriers influencing function fulfillment. Third, the possibilities to influence these drivers and barriers are discussed.