There is no shortage of fixes to improve a ship’s Carbon Intensity Indicator ratings.

New propulsion systems with alternative fuels, more efficient motors, anti-fouling hull coatings, onboard electric systems, heating and cooling systems, flow meters, rotor sails — the list goes on.

But the most important first step might be better measuring of ships’ actual efficiency and emissions, rather than the basic long-lived exercises of adding up fuel loading figures and sending noon reports.

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“It’s important to see how vessels operate and what the energy consumption is and how it’s working,” says Jostein Bogen, product line manager for electric solutions at ABB Marine & Ports.

Sources in the technology sphere tell TW+ that owners and managers are increasingly turning to data collection to get a read on compliance and optimise ships. That data can then be used to evaluate the types of hard equipment or operational changes needed to cut emissions further.

However, that optimism is not reflected by satellite communications companies, which report that data is not yet being transferred between ship and shore in significantly larger amounts to achieve this.

It is possible to work with data on board vessels, but many managers and bigger owners are now running operational centres 24 hours a day to which ships would be expected to transfer data.

Communications and data transfer has risen hugely since the pandemic began, but major operator KVH says most of the increase relates to welfare connectivity for seafarers.

KVH executive vice president Mark Woodhead says vessel monitoring is in its infancy, partly because connectivity has not been mandated as a CII requirement.

Nevertheless, ABB Marine & Ports head of sales & business development Tomas Arhippainen says digitalisation will contribute to emissions reduction and CII compliance.

“Everyone I talk to has a digitalisation strategy, and that links back to being more efficient,” he says, even though ABB also provides a suite of products ranging from onboard power solutions to high-efficiency engines.

If an owner wants 20% more efficiency, it can get that from engines and other hardware upgrades, but one-quarter can come from digital optimisation tools, Arhippainen says.

The first CII ratings will be assigned in 2024, creating questions as to what steps owners and managers will have to take.

Matt Heider, chief executive of New York-based Nautilus Labs, says hard upgrades such as wind propulsion or hull modifications are things his company ultimately would like to see, but says its technology can cut fuel bills by up to 10% by helping operators plan efficient voyages using data and artificial intelligence.

“[Digitalisation is] just the lowest-hanging fruit, and we still see the market today hasn’t adopted the most efficient voyage,” he says.

Metis Cybertechnology provides data collection and analysis technology to help improve efficiency. Chief executive Mike Konstantinidis cites a test case in which a capesize bulker improved its CII score from the first half of 2021 to the first half of 2022 while sailing greater distances. It saved 930 tonnes of fuel — and about $1m in costs.

Metis collected data from the ship’s operation last year, then made recommendations as to its speed when laden, ballasting or given the weather conditions.

“You cannot improve something if you have not measured it and analysed it properly,” Konstantinidis says.

He and Heider say owners are increasingly interested in digital tools, whereas in the past it may have been a harder sell.

“I feel like it is pervasive across the market in a way that it wasn’t even three years ago,” Heider says. “It’s happening everywhere and we’re seeing it from owners and charterers of every size.”

Konstantinidis adds: “This digitalisation is like a huge ocean swell. There is no way to avoid it. But you definitely need to get it right.”

Arhippainen says although the topic comes up frequently with clients, only a small sliver of the global fleet actually uses digital tools. And of those ships, only a few owners use them to their full potential.

Newbuildings will have digital tools built in, but what owners will invest in, and how they use it, are open questions.

How EEXI and CII work

The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index applies technical standards to cut carbon dioxide emissions by ships from 1 January 2023 based on the Energy Efficiency Design Index adopted by the IMO for newbuildings in 2020.

The Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) will regulate existing ships above 5,000 gt from an operational perspective. It is worked out by taking a ship’s annual emissions from fuel used and dividing that by its capacity (deadweight or gross tonnage), multiplied by annual distance travelled in nautical miles.

The CII will be implemented via a new Part III of the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) containing targets and an implementation plan that details measures to be applied.

From 2024, CII ratings will be assigned for the previous year ranging from the highest A to lowest C pass grades, while D and E results may be considered non-compliant.

Operators of ships rated D for three consecutive years or E for a single year will have to develop an approved plan of corrective actions to bring a vessel into compliance by the end of the next year.

The CII is based on 5% reduction in carbon intensity in 2023 relative to a 2019 base level. Its requirements will get stricter by 2% per year until 2026. The IMO has yet to decide on further levels.

Source: Paul Berrill/Edwin Pang