Kristinn Aspelund

Energy management at sea

Energy management at sea
The most effective way to reduce harmful emissions from ship operations is to restrict fuel consumption. In light of tightening environmental regulations, a long term trend of volatile fuel prices and increasingly environmentally conscious customers, the need for effective marine energy management is upon us and will grow rapidly in the near future. Effective energy management no longer revolves around cost savings, rather around environmental awareness, stronger business positions and compliance with regulations.

Energy management in a nutshell
Marine energy management is the application of systematic methods to measure, register and analyse the energy usage of a vessel or an entire fleet. This systematic approach identifies specific actions that vessel operators can take to reduce the vessel’s energy consumption. Marine energy management is best applied systematically and with a holistic view of the vessel’s energy consumption.

wallboard_imacVolatile fuel costs
Unpredictable fuel prices have already had a serious impact on the shipping industry. We see occasional periods of fluctuation with softening prices, but all indicators point to higher costs in the long run. Oil price volatility is now at its highest rate since 2009, moving back and forth more than at any other time since the onset of the financial crisis.

Environmentally conscious customers
With growing public focus on harmful emissions, customers are becoming more environmentally conscious. They are increasingly turning their business towards companies with responsibility and environmentally friendly reputations. This means that effective energy management requires not only lower costs but a stronger image and position in the market.


Energy efficiency has become the key to success
By focusing on energy efficiency, companies can strengthen their market position in an increasingly environmentally conscious market while complying with new and tighter regulations. These are no small tasks. Today’s shipping managers are expected to take these urgent issues seriously. The need for effective energy management is now, and it must become a part of both the day-to-day operation of the ship and its periodic maintenance.

Co-ordinate for maximum effect
Energy efficiency improvement of ship operations does not necessarily depend solely on a single ship; instead it can depend on many stakeholders, including shipyards, ship-owners, operators, charterers, cargo owners, ports, and traffic management services. The better the co-ordination among such stakeholders, the more improvement can be expected. Such co-ordination or total management is most effective if planned and implemented on a management or company level. Energy and environmental management should not be targeted at single ships but directed at the fleet and company as a whole.

Motivate and train
For effective and steady implementation of the adopted measures, raising awareness and providing necessary training for personnel both onshore and onboard is important. Human resource development is a vital component of planning as well as a critical element of implementation.

Changing environment in shipping

The EU has reached a political agreement on the regulations setting out new EU-wide rules for the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions from ships. The regulation, once formally adopted, will enter into force on 1 July 2015. These regulations will provide an opportunity for a European wide approach to MRV of both GHGs and air pollutant emissions from the maritime sector. Such an approach will permit Europe to develop emission reduction policies for the maritime sector in the near future consistent with the overall climate, air pollution and human health protection policies. The new rules will cover CO2 emissions from ships above 5,000 gross tonnes. From 1 January 2018 ship-owners will be obliged to monitor emissions for each ship on a per voyage and an annual basis. There are provisions on monitoring and reporting, verification and accreditation, and compliance and publication of information as well as international co-operation. These regulations are meant to be a stepping stone towards a global MRV instrument, which is currently being discussed at the IMO.

Baselines and benchmarks
Ship-owners argue that before realistic targets can be established for the reduction of CO2, NOx or any other emission, governments must collectively, through the International Maritime Organization, compile reliable data that establishes a baseline and benchmark and supports such targets. Overall, widespread support is growing for the scheme, as long as it does not place an additional administrative or operational burden on ships. SEEMP and Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) The SEEMP is an operational measure that establishes a mechanism to improve the energy efficiency of a ship in a cost-effective manner. The SEEMP also provides an approach for shipping companies to manage ship and fleet efficiency performance over time using, for example, the EEOI as a monitoring tool. Ships have faced lower sulphur fuel requirements in emission control areas from 1 January 2015. Since then, ships operating designated regions – the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the North American (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada) and the United States Caribbean Sea (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands) – have had to use onboard fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.10%, instead of the limit of 1.00% in effect up until 31 December 2014.

Availability of accurate information is fundamental
In order to comply with these rules, the availability of accurate and comprehensive energy efficiency information is an absolute prerequisite. The introduction of mandatory SEEMPs in 2013 forced the shipping industry to turn its attention towards this important topic. Volatile fuel prices are here to stay – shipping companies with successful energy management implementations have a competitive advantage as a result of more efficient fuel consumption and lower costs. The next year or two will determine who is willing and able to master energy management and turn it into a competitive advantage. Companies investing in holistic energy management concepts will shape the future market.

Holistic approach to energy management
To ensure the best possible results energy management should be approached on a fleet-wide basis with continuous improvement procedures similar to those in quality and environmental management systems (plan-do-check-act). In order to receive the full potential of an energy management programme, ship-owners must engage in a continuous improvement cycle and secure the services of specialists to provide analyses of energy systems and consultation on improvements. To ensure efficient work cycles it is important to build up infrastructure within your corporation with state-of-the-art systems to measure, analyse and report on energy-related issues.

Kristinn Aspelund
Director of Business Development

Article published in Pan European Networks: Government page 196 & 197, May 2015 issue 14, browse: