Bridging the proof gap: AI ushers in a new era of confidence in energy efficiency technologies
The latest advances in AI and machine learning provide the evidence needed to prove what energy efficiency technologies work and in which operating conditions they excel, while also offering a performance optimisation solution in its own right
Shipping needs to move towards net-zero in a rapid, safe, and cost-effective manner. Energy efficiency solutions are fundamental to this journey. In the short term, they enable ship owners and operators to realise immediate incremental emissions reductions from available technological and operational solutions. In the medium to long term, too, they remain important. Gone are the days when a vessel underperformance of 10% can be overlooked. As costs increase, environmental regulations tighten and charterers (their customers, and their customers’ customers) vie for the cleanest ships, the spotlight will remain firmly fixed on energy efficiency for good.
These statements are well understood by the shipping industry. However, many want more certainty before selecting and adopting energy efficiency technologies.
Despite plenty of initial interest in marine technology in the last decade, many ship owners and operators have disengaged with the debate after over-inflated solutions have proved hard to assess or, in worst cases, failed to live up to the hype. This has led to a legacy trust issue with unproven technologies. Our recent LinkedIn poll highlighted this, with results showing that unproven technology was the biggest challenge to decarbonisation (38% of respondents). This was followed by industry collaboration (26%), funding (19%), and lastly, regulatory uncertainty (17%). Earlier in 2021, The Sustainability Imperative Study published by Watson Farley & Williams identified similar challenges. The study also flagged concerns related to the adoption of newer technologies, with 28% of global respondents saying that tested technology/proven results was the top driver for supporting one technology over another.
Turning a corner
Despite this, proponents of AI and machine learning are optimistic about the future and a new era of data-driven analytics. They believe these latest advances offer both the evidence needed to prove what energy efficiency technologies work and in which operating conditions they excel, while also offering a performance optimisation solution in its own right. What’s more, IT departments of the early 2000s have evolved. Many in the industry have moved away from producing basic data analytics in house to a more sophisticated approach that involves partnering with industry newcomers that bring the latest innovations in data analytics to their businesses. This shift gives rise to further optimism, as new partnerships with external tech and data experts highlight shipping’s willingness to consider new approaches to solve the financial, operational and strategic challenges of decarbonisation.
New data, new era
Every day we see more signs that shipping is entering a new era of empowerment – one where owners and operators have the information at their fingertips to shape a truly effective energy efficiency strategy. For ship owners and operators, which might not be direct beneficiaries of fuel savings, data technologies can help ward against performance failures. This enables them to protect the value of their assets, as well as increasingly provide the foundation for strong relationships with charterers. In the future, a vessel provenance going back several years and including high quality structured data could increase the asset price, the hire price, – or even be pre-requisite for any kind of commercial transaction.
Being data ready is crucial
Following the recent 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), outcomes point to an acceleration of discussion and urgent action around decarbonisation. Shipping should not rule out a hastening of regulatory timelines for the IMO’s GHG emissions reduction strategy. Nor should it underplay the role that wider stakeholders play in pressuring the shipping industry to adopt more sustainable practices. By embracing energy efficiency strategies now, guided by accurate real time data insights, ship owners and operators can grasp the competitive opportunities of decarbonisation, rather than falling prey to the challenge – and ultimately being squeezed out of the market.
Source: by Angus Whiston, DeepSea’s Commercial Director