Maritime decarbonization is a growing global concern and a key goal for the maritime ecosystem. With 90% of global trade shipping via sea, roughly 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were generated by the shipping industry. The goals set by IMO to reduce greenhouse gases have made decarbonization a true priority for the maritime industry. Maritime decarbonization is no small undertaking and is estimated to cost the industry $1.65 trillion to achieve.
For the most part, the discussion regarding decarbonization and its initiatives have focused on zero-emission fuels and vessels and building a global regulatory framework. While the mechanics are without a doubt essential to maritime decarbonization efforts, one needs only to look to other industries to see the untapped potential of software and AI solutions.
The road not taken (yet)
Digitization and AI have been widely recognized across industries as the key to previously unattainable scale and optimization. Today, applications of AI in the maritime domain deal with everything from supply chain challenges, due diligence, and risk management. However, AI can do much more, as seen in many other industries.
״…digitalisation has the potential to increase carbon abatement by 20%. Artificial intelligence technologies are likely even more effective and could raise the carbon abatement potential up to 30%.״Start Up Energy Transition
The automotive industry, for example, has been making significant strides towards a zero-carbon sector, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 66% until 2030. To do so, the industry is turning to AI tools to optimize vehicle flow. In Pittsburgh, AI is being used to manage light sequencing effectively and has been proven effective with a 40% reduction in engine idling and a 20% reduction in carbon emissions.
Shipping routes & lifetime vessel utilization
It is crucial to recognize that with an average ship lifespan of 20 – 30 years (page 36), it will take time to achieve net-zero vessels on a global scale. The ecosystem’s interim goal should be reducing carbon emissions throughout the vessel’s lifetime. Data such as weather and AIS need to be innovatively utilized to achieve this. The sheer volume and variety of data required to optimize this challenge make it a perfect fit for AI and ML solutions. For example, is the shortest route the most carbon and cost-effective? In this insight piece from DNV it is clear that weather conditions have a significant impact not only on fuel expenditure but also only vessel durability and lifetime.
Port arrival optimization
Today, a vessel’s port arrival does not always coincide with port readiness, leading to unnecessary delays. Using AI to predict port traffic and optimize the management of the various vessels that need to make a port visit based on their specific need, port visit duration, and so forth can reduce much of the load and reduce wasted time.
Scrap market monitoring
The flip side of net-zero vessels is phasing out older vessels from organizations’ operating fleets. The natural assumption would be that these vessels would be scrapped. However, as seen in early 2021, it should be noted that despite a healthy scrapping market, there are a significant number of potential buyers for old tanker tonnage. Given that oil tankers are one of the three leading fuel consumers, oil and tankers are one of the key focuses of sanction advisories, and that secondhand buyers are increasingly failing due diligence checks, the maritime ecosystem as a whole must also invest in ensuring that decarbonization goals are not undercut and negated but illicit players.
AI-backed maritime intelligence solutions
We only have one earth, and it has provided us with limited resources; to continue our way of life, therefore, requires a fundamental shift in the way we view resource management.
As leaders in the maritime domain, we plan to accelerate our decarbonization solution, focusing on the impact of the worldwide fleet on greenhouse gas emissions. We recognize that significantly altering operations is not done easily. While we have done our part to make the adoption of AI-backed maritime intelligence solutions seamless, there is still a long way to go before the industry reaches the coveted net-zero goal.
Windward will continue providing smart solutions to the maritime industry, leveraging our ability to fuse static and dynamic data in real-time to provide insights into decarbonization and environmental sustainability so that we all live in a cleaner, safer world.