CORDIS - EU research results


Final Report Summary - GREENSHIPPING (GreenShipping)

The project’s main innovation is attributed to the synthesis of its two main pillars, (a) maritime logistics research and (b) emissions-related research. With some exceptions, these two topics have been treated by and large separately in the literature and there is little within their interface. In that sense, the main objective of this project is to engage in cross-disciplinary research that is relevant for the area of ‘Green Maritime Logistics’, which is defined as an attempt to attain an acceptable environmental performance of the maritime transportation mode, while at the same time respecting traditional economic performance criteria. This is an area of paramount importance for international shipping and will be even more so in the future. The proposed research would enhance the state of the art in this area by investigating possible reformulations of existing models so as to incorporate emissions considerations and by developing new models altogether that explicitly include the emissions dimension.

The challenge is to model the real world well enough while still having a model that is tractable by the computers of today. Generic solvers can solve some of these models while others are out of reach for such software and customized algorithms must be developed. In that case research relies on algorithms like metaheuristics, branch-and-cut and column generation.

During the 2 years of the project we identified various ways to incorporate the emissions dimension on existing formulations. Various objective functions of existing formulations were used. Typical objective functions include minimization of time or distance, minimization of operational costs (including fuel consumption cost) or maximization of profit. It was proven that some cases are trivial, e.g minimizing carbon dioxide emissions is equal to minimizing distance when the per distance unit emissions are constant.
In addition, as expected, it was verified that speed optimization is the most important parameter in the problem. The non-linear relationship between speed and fuel consumption, and thus emissions, turns the problem in a non-linear one and thus existing solution techniques and commercial solvers cannot be easily used.

Furthermore, in reality, several, and often contrasting, objectives should be considered when optimizing maritime transport. We could argue that this is an area that has not been given much attention. Our models will include bi-objective (such as total cost and emissions) and multiobjective optimization; hence making our approach more realistic. Several objectives were also considered for ship routing problems. These objectives included different gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and sulfur oxides) and different types of objectives (e.g time, distance and economic considerations). Multi-objective optimization techniques were used.

Finally, another innovative aspect of the project concerns the link of the logistics/emissions research to its potential policy implications. There is quite a bit of activity in the policy/regulatory front on issues related to the problems examined by this project, but this tends to be fragmented and patchwork. The need of a holistic approach to formulate sensible policies is more than clear and this project will entail a connection to the policy dimension.
EU and IMO regulations that affect maritime operations, such as the regulations on Monitoring, Report and Verification (MRV) of emissions and enforcement of regulations (e.g. on Sulfur Emission Control Areas) were be examined.

By doing the above, the proposed research offered significant added value and societal benefits due to a better environmental performance of shipping, as well as benefits to both private shipping companies and other operators. It enhanced the state of knowledge in a research area, which is currently developing.

The project results appeared in various fora and a number of publications have produced or are currently under preparation.
For more information please visit the project’s website at