In a world where ecological concerns run high, every industry is under pressure to reduce their environmental impact. The international shipping industry is no exception.
During the 45th G7 summit held in Biarritz, France in August, the nation’s president Emmanuel Macron declared his intention to place the country at the forefront of a green shipping revolution by slashing the greenhouse gas emissions of the French owned fleet. His favoured silver bullet for achieving this mission? Slow steaming: the practice of operating cargo ships at significantly less than their maximum speed.
President Macron’s exact words to the gathered group of world leaders were, “We will engage with shipping companies to reduce the speed of merchant ships. It is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, and this measure would be a real change.”
As a French national working for a Swedish company offering a technology that can make ship operations greener by automatically optimising engine propulsion efficiency, I heard the call of the “start-up nation President” loud and clear.
At Lean Marine our mission statement, “Make it Green: Pragmatic, ecologically minded solutions”, is very much aligned with President Macron’s mission. Our technology FuelOpt is an advanced control system that uses powerful algorithms to process data collected from sensors on board and, in real-time, directly optimise every aspect of the propulsion line. This enables officers on the bridge as well as the captain, to minimise fuel consumption of a vessel at a given power or speed via a user-friendly panel on the bridge.
FuelOpt is the tool needed for slow steaming as it ensures that this new target speed will actually be maintained without large variation, similar to the cruise control function on a car. For vessels with Controllable Pitch Propeller, FuelOpt capabilities to optimise the complete propulsion line corrects for the known adverse effect that slow steaming has on this propulsion when propellers are pitched at low values.
Furthermore, the performance of a vessel can be monitored through Lean Marine’s Fleet Analytics software system. This allows onshore personnel to gain insight into the current health of a vessel, empowering them to take complimentary actions for improving the vessel condition, which in turn allows FuelOpt to achieve yet more reductions in fuel consumption. These combined efforts trigger a virtuous circle of continuous improvement of vessel performance as well as reductions in GHG emissions. FuelOpt has no hidden costs: ‘lean’ is the key word here. The solution can be placed on any existing vessel during operation without requiring a costly docking of the ship. The potential fuel savings at stake range between 3-10 per cent, depending on the type of propulsion and the degree of optimisation the vessel is already under.
FuelOpt is the perfect technology to support the realisation of President Macron’s mission of a greening the French shipping fleet. It perfectly combines with other fuel saving measures such as slow steaming or wind-assisted propulsion technologies installations, since it acts as an integrator, making sure the engine speed is always adjusted as per needs.
Of course, Macron’s strategy is one that very much suits the French containership fleet, the slowing down from the higher speeds typically adopted by containerships converts into great fuel savings and GHG emission reductions. As such, CMA CGM has been trusted by Mr Macron to head a new green shipping lobby group. The carrier has shown enthusiasm for the concept of slow steaming with the design for two new vessels it has on order pointing to a preference for slow steaming.
FuelOpt is already installed on 130 vessels and with appreciated interest from big shipping players including CMA-CGM, Lean Marine aims to support the French shipowners achieve their targets to become the greenest fleet in Europe.
Author: Sarah Zitouni, Lean Marine Sweden