Powering into the future

As the most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, the shipping industry is the engine of global trade. But driven by growing consumer and regulatory pressure to clean up its act, the shipping industry faces a transformative few decades ahead; decades that will see it move to new sources of energy, new vessel designs and – ultimately – integrate new technologies more closely at the heart of its operations.

In recognition of the growing urgency to decarbonize, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently introduced two new energy efficiency requirements to be implemented in 2023 – the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) – to support its goal of reducing vessels’ carbon emissions per transport work by at least 40 percent by 2030.

While EEXI is the technical measure and considers the design of the ship, CII is a measure of how efficiently a ship transports goods or passengers and is measured in grams of CO2 emitted per cargo-carrying capacity and nautical mile. The introduction of new requirements that focus on efficiency are a clear signpost that more fuel-efficient vessel performance will be one of the single most important measures of commercial and operational success in the coming years.

How the intelligent use of data can secure efficiencies now
With huge parts of the global fleet designed to serve a 25-to-30-year lifespan, it’s critical that we find solutions that work both today and into the medium-term. Similarly, while low and zero carbon future fuels will undeniably do much of the heavy lifting to decarbonize the global fleet, they are realistically many years off from widespread adoption, with scaling, safety, regulatory and cost challenges halting their immediate implementation.

It’s clear that ship owners and operators need accessible, easily implementable and effective solutions to increase the environmental performance of their fleets today.

This is where data and technology have a significant role to play. The industry’s vast – but widely underutilized – data resource holds the answer to a number of challenges operators and owners face. Without the need to alter a vessel or the infrastructure of a fleet, the right applications can leverage data to truly enhance vessel performance, increase earnings and reduce CO2 emissions.

Perhaps most importantly of all, as shipping increasingly utilizes more of its data as a natural step in its digital revolution, it unlocks the very real and imminent power of the data network effect. This translates into meaningful benefits associated with more granular and deeper insights into vessel performance, more assurance in the recommendations made by software, and more connected workflows. In all, the data network effect will allow shipping to create a valuable data ecosystem that generates more robust insights and smarter products, and attracts more users with more data.

With little-to-no capex barrier or vessel downtime needed for the implementation of digital solutions, fuel savings and increased earnings can be generated at around the same level as some clean technologies – which often cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and weeks of vessel downtime for retrofits.

And, even more compellingly, it is possible for shipping to pick up money that it is ‘left on the table’ by using resources that it already has, but is not currently utilizing: voyage, vessel and bunker data.

This capital can be used in many ways; including being injected back into a business or freeing up room to invest in R&D and other efficiency solutions. Digital solutions therefore make it easier for the industry to transition to a low-carbon future immediately. And this immediacy is a requirement, not an option, when considering the decarbonization targets the sector faces.

Unlocking a new approach to vessel performance
ZeroNorth are focused on supporting a new era of low-carbon shipping through the deployment of our vessel, voyage and bunker optimization platform, which turns data into insights and actions, and optimizes seaborne trade for cargo owners, vessel owners, operators and bunker suppliers.

Some of the functionality of our platform is designed to support transparency and positive decision-making in line with regulation. For example, our interconnected Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) analysis and optimization solution was created to enable users to access real-time monitoring of CII-related performance and simulate a vessel’s future CII rating. The increased transparency, analysis and ability to forward plan will help owners and operators navigate the new environmental regulation both now and in the future.

Similarly, our recent acquisition of bunker market platform ClearLynx will provide ship owners and operators with an integrated end-to-end solution for the cost and environmentally-efficient optimization of bunker fuel, creating a single point for voyage, vessel and bunker optimization.

These developments epitomize our approach of pursuing integrated software solutions that use data to become ‘greater than the sum of their parts’. By joining up information, we’ll be able to power the industry on its decarbonization pathway. For the industry, the message is simple: the first movers pave the course, now is the time for all to embrace the power of connected data which can enable progress now.

Recognizing the challenges posed by climate change, technology company ZeroNorth was founded to accelerate the transition to greener global trade. By blending cutting-edge data-driven technology with human expertise, the ZeroNorth platform provides a range of software solutions that are helping the global shipping industry cut emissions and reduce its impact on the climate, whilst maintaining commercial performance.