Maritime operations are naturally carbon intensive. Making maritime operations more efficient and thus conserving wasted energy and ultimately saving fuel, is a powerful way of decarbonising the global merchant fleet.
Over the past 12 months, results have been announced from several pilot programs which demonstrate tangible reductions in GHG emissions. Every maritime energy transition project requires tools for execution. The best tools for the task depending on which improvement is being sought and in which domain it falls. Here, we explore the most impactful tools for decarbonising domain 1: the operation.
The Tools of Operational Decarbonisation
In September 2022, Wallenius Wilhelmsen embarked on a path to adopt a fully AI-driven voyage optimisation system for its fleet of over 120 vessels after an 18-month trial with DeepSea Technologies showed a 6.9% efficiency boost. This move aligns with their goal of significantly reducing emissions and transitioning to zero-emissions services by 2027. Meanwhile, Stena Line achieved an 11% drop in carbon intensity through route and cargo optimisation, combined with renewable energy use during port times. Carisbrooke Shipping, after collaborations with Transas and Wärtsilä, managed a 600-ton CO2 cut in 2022 across their 28 ships, attributed partly to Wärtsilä’s Fleet Optimisation Solution. They use AI to compare and optimise voyage data, supported by high-frequency onboard data collection. Carisbrooke’s focus remains on efficiency, decarbonisation, and modern, efficient vessel design. Click here for a deep dive and case studies on voyage optimisation in maritime.
Collaboration and Data Exchange
Collaboration and data exchange are pivotal for advancing operational efficiency in the maritime sector. The industry’s energy transition and decarbonisation efforts hinge on a shift towards open systems, where stakeholders, including shipowners, equipment suppliers, and connectivity providers, cooperate to achieve sustainable and profitable outcomes. Data sharing, both at micro and macro levels, holds the key. On a smaller scale, individual businesses and operations, like charterers and shipowners, might collaborate through data platforms for mutual efficiency gains. In contrast, on a more extensive scale, entire sectors collaborate to drive market-wide changes, such as choosing alternative fuels. Embracing data transparency, especially in areas like fuel quality assurance and traceability, is crucial for informed decision-making and verifying sustainability credentials. This collective approach, backed by technology like AI and IoT sensors, can provide a clearer, more efficient path to meeting long-term environmental and operational goals. Click here for a deep dive and case studies on data sharing and collaboration for maritime decarbonisation.
Data Standards, Nomenclature and Ownership
Effective data collaboration in the maritime sector hinges on standardised units of measurement and terminology. While traditional noon reports remain prevalent for ships at sea, the rise of digital high-frequency data, bolstered by advancements in satellite connectivity, is becoming a more prevalent method for gathering comprehensive data. The Smart Maritime Council introduced the “Standardised Vessel Dataset (SVD) for Noon Reports” in 2023, aiming to standardise data collection, sharing, and analysis across the sector. In addition to data standardisation, the maritime industry faces challenges related to data ownership and control. With multiple stakeholders involved, determining data ownership can be complex. Best practice guidelines and legal frameworks, like the proposed EU Data Act, are being developed to address data ownership issues and maximise data utilisation, which could significantly impact the industry’s efficiency and economic contributions. To read more on data standards, nomenclature and ownership click here.
Contract based measures for operational efficiency
Enhanced data sharing and collaboration can transform port arrivals and departures, promoting more efficient sea voyages. The traditional approach of “sail fast, then wait” is outdated due to advancements in global communications. The Blue Visby Solution introduces a neutral platform aimed at synchronising ship arrivals optimally, replacing the old paradigm. This system involves a mutual contractual framework, operational monitoring, a speed calculation algorithm, and a sharing mechanism for stakeholders to equitably distribute costs and benefits. Such a collaborative approach could significantly reduce global carbon emissions from shipping. Additionally, other contract-based methods, such as the partnership between KCC Charting and Raizen, highlight the potential of improving operations and reducing carbon intensity through enhanced communication and innovative vessel designs. To read more on contract based measures in decarbonisation click here.
The role of ports in operational efficiency
Ports play a crucial role in maritime decarbonisation, with the efficiency of port calls influencing ship emissions. The industry is familiar with the just-in-time (JIT) arrival concept, aiming to reduce waiting times and increase efficiency. Recent momentum in this area highlights significant CO2 reduction opportunities, even with speed optimisations in the voyage’s final stages. “Green corridors” are being established between major ports, offering end-to-end JIT solutions and promoting maritime sector decarbonisation. These corridors, like the Singapore-Rotterdam collaboration, aim to implement digital solutions to enhance efficiency, tackle climate challenges, and ensure smoother port call operations, urging ship operators to enhance onboard connectivity. To read more on the role of ports to support operational decarbonisation click here.
The maritime industry’s pursuit of decarbonisation is an intricate interplay of technology, collaboration, and innovative strategies, with ship operations at the forefront of this transition. From leveraging AI in voyage optimisation to forging international green corridors, the sector is making commendable strides in reducing its carbon footprint. Crucial to these efforts are the standardisation of data and embracing open systems, ensuring that stakeholders work in tandem towards shared sustainability goals. As the industry sails forward, the combined efforts of ship operators, ports, and technological innovators will be paramount in shaping a greener maritime future.