Solutions to decarbonise are embedded in data

5 min read
18 May 2021

Data is holding every stakeholder individually accountable for their environmental impact. But data can also show the ways to create more efficiencies that lead to greener operations.

With the proliferation of satellite imaging, real-time data sharing technologies, and international climate tracing collaborations, a radical wave of transparent and democratised carbon emissions data is upon us. And when it hits the shore, which is very soon, there will be no place to hide. 

It won’t be just IMO deadlines set on a future date anymore. Satellites, remote sensing technologies, and artificial intelligence will monitor worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in real-time and pinpoint them to specific sources: individual ports, ships, services, and businesses. It’ll increase transparency and shift accountability to the individual’s shoulder, putting everyone under open international public scrutiny. Such authentic and unprecedentedly detailed emissions data will tighten regulations and shed new light on ESG integration and investing. 

The damage could thus be severe for those unprepared. 

But here’s the thing about data: while it reveals our inefficiencies, it can also show us the way to decarbonise. And that’s where Wärtsilä Voyage comes in. 

We are here to help maritime find a smart route to sustainable shipping – future-proof the business while playing the individual parts in protecting the future of this one and only blue planet. 

Our battle cry: Zero emissions for our planet. And zero inefficiencies for our customers

So, how do we plan to do this? With data, of course. 

The central focus for Wärtsilä's ‘Blue Carbon’ Project, which won first place in United Nations’ AIS Big Data Hackathon, was to provide a comprehensive picture of the true state of maritime emissions. 

We created a global map to upgrade the reporting accuracy for ship emissions by breaking them down geographically. Not only can this map aid regulatory development for shipping, but it can also help research institutions attain greater accuracy in their measurements by using this data to eliminate emissions generated by ships. 

IMO knows the power of data too.  

If you take a closer look at all the GHG regulations, everything pretty much boils down to the MARPOL Annex VI, which aims to reduce shipping’s emissions by ‘optimising energy efficiency’ — the key phrase amidst all the chatter.  

We leverage data analytics, AI and automation to monitor, manage and optimise every movement on the route map. Our solutions, therefore, provide 360° support to shipowners, managers, ports and yards in their decarbonisation efforts – enhancing efficiencies of existing assets and planning a commercially viable investment pathway to become carbon-neutral in the future. Here’s how it works:

Reduced fuel consumption = Reduced emissions

It’s a win-win solution for both businesses and the planet. The IMO’s SEEMP (Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan) guidelines thus suggest a variety of options to improve fuel efficiency – from speed optimisation, optimised weather routing to timely hull maintenance, engine load efficiency. 

Wärtsilä FOS (Fleet Operations Solution) helps you do all the above and more, making it an ideal solution for vessels to achieve a good carbon intensity rating under the MARPOL CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) scheme that’ll come into effect in January 2023.  

The cloudware connects to a ship’s ECDIS and integrates all navigation and operational systems in one screen. In practice, this means real-time weather forecasts and auto-optimised speed and routes that give the best fuel efficiency while ensuring voyage safety. The solution also supports predictive maintenance for propeller, hull and engine condition to ensure the vessel performance is optimal at all times and it’s not burning excessive fuel than needed. It also alerts you about what’s causing extra fuel consumption during the voyage so that you can take corrective actions.   

In some cases, this information was able to reduce up to 10 tonnes of fuel consumption during a voyage and thus also reduced the resulting emissions. 

Being a cloud-based platform, FOS acts as a collaborative tool that helps share up-to-date vessel insights among all stakeholders – shipowners, operators, managers, and charterers. When every nautical mile counts, this full transparency on ship operations goes a long way in coordinating efforts to cut emissions.


Reduced port congestion = Reduced emissions

As ship sizes and global traffic grow, congestion has become another major contributor to shipping emissions. As MarineTraffic estimates, bad planning, early arrivals and the subsequent time spent waiting in ports mean that the industry is unnecessarily burning bunker totalling $18 billion annually – that’s around 160 million tons of CO2 unnecessarily expelled into the air. 

Better ship-to-shore coordination for Just-in-time (JIT) arrivals is the solution to this problem. Wärtsilä Navi-Port enables this with a simple middleware that connects a ship’s navigation system to the port in real-time. It provides consistently formatted and uplinked updates to both parties, onboard and onshore, painting the latest and most complete picture. This data sharing environment results in efficient port calls even with high traffic volume and up to 7 days in advance. It also means that ships don't need to voyage 'full steam' to port only to have to wait 10 days for a berthing slot. 

By creating a connected ecosystem – through intelligent routing (with FOS) and better port-vessel synchronicity (with Navi-Port) – vessels can immediately cut 15% of excess fuel consumption that is currently burnt due to long anchorage, which automatically means significant reduction in both local and on-route emissions.


Smarter inland connections = Reduced emissions 

Congestion issues in the supply chain go beyond port calls, which Just-in-time sailing alone can’t resolve. Here, autonomy and smart technologies will be key in removing infrastructural bottlenecks and achieving shipping’s zero-emission ambition. Take, for instance, short sea shipping. Since 2015 and combined with an effort to reduce ground transportation, the EU has targeted a 25% increase in cargo transportation by short sea shipping before 2030. That’s because overland transport modes cannot absorb the emerging capacity bottleneck for internal container movement.  

Also, because shipping is by far the greenest among mass transportation modes when compared to the energy expends of rail, road and air. To quote Rose Goerge’s book, Ninety percent of Everything: "Sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre (France) emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon." 

Our aim is, therefore, to create a smart inland logistics network within the next few years. With solutions like SmartMove and Smart Sensors, we are changing short sea and inland shipping into a safer, cleaner, and more efficient link in the logistic chain, with greater accessibility to those who need it.  

And we’ve already laid a solid foundation for this with working examples like IntelliTug tested in Singapore, automated dock-to-dock operations in the Great Lakes of Michigan, and the most recent project to introduce autonomous, zero-emission container shuttles  for the Port of Rotterdam. These show how the unique pairing of next-gen sensor technology with automated navigation systems can resolve congestion issues safely even in the busiest ports and most complex inland waterways. 


Readiness for green technology = Reduced emissions

Sustainable shipping, that is, adoption of new greener technologies and fuels pose a huge challenge for re-skilling crew members. And there are over 1.65 million seafarers serving on merchant ships alone who’d need to be prepared for this shift. 

Future fuel handling, for instance, needs preparedness in terms of research, testing and skill upgradation. Also, gas is an extremely difficult thing to handle as well. Even for the best engineer out there you need to learn how gas behaves to start with.   

On the other hand, current STCW regulations don’t recognise climate change yet. DNV states that the next review is not likely to be finalised before 2025/2030 – as a technology provider we are not waiting for this. 

That’s because, the key to reduce negative environmental impact at sea lies in increased knowledge, active measures and an ongoing impact on attitudes. 

Case in point is the ECO Shipping training programme, run by the Swedish Transport Agency operating the road ferries in Sweden. We provided the simulation technology and consultation for this programme which trains seafarers to manoeuvre ships in a more fuel-efficient way. The project saw a 16% reduction in emissions for road ferries operated by crew who underwent this training. 

Training regulations may not match ground realities but adopting new greener technologies will not only be an operational necessity, but most definitely become a regulatory requirement.  

Simulators that show you the exact behaviour of new systems and fuels in different conditions, thus add tremendous value — help experienced mariners hone new skills and prepare future ones for what lies ahead — in a safe and cost-effective environment.     

Our simulation solutions are therefore already leveraging the latest in AI and machine learning to provide customers with the most realistic training environments based on an unparalleled dataset. The solutions use augmented reality to provide thorough preparedness in handling and gaining expertise in emerging solutions that support shipping’s decarbonisation. And our cloud simulation solutions can make this switch even smoother by providing the convenience of anytime, anywhere training and assessment programs. Plus, cloud classrooms are less carbon-intensive than conventional ones, further cutting down on the time and logistics involved in training personnel.  


Bridging data to unlock the path to sustainability

Estimates show, 90% of data generated on board the ship never leaves the deck, which means operators are losing out on valuable insight and analytics that can improve performance and efficiency. It’s a similar situation at shores and everything in between.  

It’s inconceivable how much more shipping can do just by bridging these data dots across oceans. 

The underlying idea behind all our efficiency solutions is, therefore, to build a cohesive and connected Smart Marine Ecosystem – that’s the big dream – starting with helping every ship and every shore optimise their every move.  
And it begins with transparency on the connections between operations and emissions. 

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