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Navigating the maze of decarbonization with digital technologies

Written by

Sarah Barrett, Product Overview and Kay Dausendschön, Product Manager, Wärtsilä Voyage

by Sarah Barrett, Product Overview and Kay Dausendschön, Product Manager, Wärtsilä Voyage

How do you plan to navigate the complex maze of decarbonization regulations that will shake up maritime operations from 2023? Digital technologies should feature prominently in your sustainability strategy, as should a strong data strategy.

We’ve all read a lot about the IMO’s EEXI and CII (Energy Efficiency Index for Existing Ships and International Maritime Organization’s Carbon Intensity Indicator) requirements, which will be implemented from 2023. laudable in view of their environmental ambition, these regulations will further increase complexity and pressure on shipowners, operators and charterers. Add to this factors such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the maritime emissions bills being debated in the United States and Congress, and it is already clear that the next few years will see no more regulatory fragmentation and even more complexity, rather than less. This will bring about significant changes in the way the sector must do business.

As the maritime industry adapts to this new operating environment, its decision makers are realizing that smart technologies are more than just a “nice to have”. They are the heart of marketing. The industry needs all possible allies in its complex journey towards decarbonization, and already digitalization is proving to be a powerful ally.

The maritime industry is a sector based on a mixture of long-term planning and instantaneous decision-making. Connecting all the dots, especially in an ever-changing and intensifying regulatory environment, is becoming increasingly difficult. But digital technologies are already proving their worth in shaping how industry stakeholders frame, review and execute key decisions.

By working with holistic software that enables informed decision-making across the vessel or fleet, you can optimize fleet navigation, facilitate compliance, improve performance and improve efficiency. Some of these immediate benefits are particularly important in the context of the decarbonization challenge. For example, fuel burn reductions have an economic benefit and an emissions benefit today, but will become even more critical in the future as shipping deploys more expensive, low-carbon fuels. .

These solutions are based on data, its management, its analysis and, ultimately, the information that stakeholders can derive from it. Software solutions, even those powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, are only as good as the data fed into them.

Beyond their direct operational benefits, solutions that break down data silos and bring different inputs into a central platform also improve transparency and accountability. This not only facilitates decision-making, but also underpins environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting, which is a parallel area of ​​interest for many maritime organizations alongside the operational challenges posed by decarbonisation.

Unlike manual processes, software can collect data consistently and more accurately, meaning it can adapt in near real-time and deliver the right information when it’s most needed. This facilitates decision-making both on the ship and ashore, as all stakeholders know they have the same information, at the same time, and can be confident that it is accurate.

Digital technologies also provide the ability to track iterative change through the analysis of historical data. Performance data can then be fed into a feedback loop to improve operations, processes and models in the future, meaning we only see the beginning of the benefits of digital technologies, not the end point.

The explosion in data volumes available to the maritime sector – 79 zettabytes, the equivalent of 79 trillion gigabytes in 2021 – can be daunting, but it also presents an exciting opportunity. With a fractured and fragmented regulatory environment, any path to operational certainty is not only welcome, but becomes critical for shipping companies, whether the end user is at sea or ashore.

The challenge is to find the right partner who can help break down silos, overcome fragmentation and provide a holistic view of the entire fleet or vessel ecosystem, to support not only decarbonization goals, but also to underpin the critical decision-making that will keep the industry ticking through this era of real change.

The video below describes Wärtsilä Voyage’s approach in more detail.


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