It could take five years or more for goals to be met, so there is no time to lose in setting out a plan to reduce carbon emissions, writes Georgios Plevrakis, Director of Global Sustainability, ABS
ith so many fuel and technology options available and more certain to emerge in the next few years, devising a sustainable fleet-wide decarbonization strategy that meets your company’s needs is complex.
Underpinning whatever decarbonization solutions you select needs to be a robust safety regime that fully addresses the risks that could arise from introducing new technology, fuels and operational strategies.
Step #1 – Carbon Footprint And Intensity Profile
Management systems practitioners will tell you that you cannot manage what you do not measure, so the first step is to develop a carbon footprint and carbon intensity profile. Benchmarking the performance of each vessel in your current fleet provides the starting points against which improvements and progress towards future fuel efficiency and decarbonization goals can be measured.
Part of the process requires decoding data from the different assets to create a common language for individual vessel performance measurements and assessing how they compare across common metrics. This data will help target resources to assets where they are most needed, or assess whether investments are worthwhile.
A critical aspect of developing your profile is also looking ahead and identifying your goals. The idea is to start at the end; establish where you need or want to be and what a picture of what success will look like and let the emissions and fuel performance data mark the path to progress. Starting at the baseline, there should be clear objectives for near mid and long-term fleet performance.
Step #2 – Consider Your Options
In the next few years, a raft of new technologies, including those that support low and zero carbon fuels, are expected to mature and become available. The safety implications of these options will need to be fully understood and accounted for, and the value of each option will need to be assessed against the decarbonization goals of each asset and the wider fleet, including any anticipated ship orders.
While measures aimed at improving operational efficiency will be applied to each ship, the gains should also be measured in the context of the fleet. Data and digital solutions have the potential to optimize everything from fuel consumption and asset reliability to routing, scheduling and port stays.
Leveraging new operational strategies or advancements in ship technologies to lower carbon footprints should be measured against the performance of each individual vessel. Questions remain about whether most low-carbon new energy sources can deliver the base load power required for international shipping. Additionally, it is not currently assured that an adequate supply of any new fuels — let alone the supply chain infrastructure to deliver them — will be available.
For these reasons, you should plan to take five or more years for any decarbonization goals to be met from related initiatives. When these technologies mature enough for strategies to be formed and applied, any gains should be measured against individual vessels, both existing and new.
Step #3 – Implement Your Strategy
Shifting to low-carbon shipping will require changes to some aspects of how your business is delivered. Your goals will need to be clearly communicated to shoreside staff and crew onboard and any changes will need to be managed across all affected departments, operations and procurement activities, including research and development.
In most cases, external guidance and best practices will be available to help you effectively implement new technologies and operational changes, so it will most likely not be necessary to start from scratch. Measuring your progress is critical, so make sure you ground your measurements in quality data.
During the implementation of your strategy, monitor the alignment with your selected trajectory by putting in place the proper environmental monitoring system that will help you quickly identify potential deviations and provide decision support for corrective actions. This will also provide a structured platform for dependable sustainability reporting.
To help vessel operators in delivering a decarbonization strategy, the ABS provides the Environmental Monitor, which performs calculations in accordance with the Environmental Ship Index and Poseidon Principles, enabling tracking of numerous Key Performance Indicators and reporting on scrubber system performance.
It is important to recognise that decarbonization is a cycle of continuous process improvement and to achieve this means knowing the impact of decarbonization on all aspects of your business. The technology solutions that support the decarbonization of the shipping industry will continue to evolve over time. Your safety strategy and your business must have the ability to do the same, adapting to changes with the least possible disruption.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.