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Eco-friendly and customer-driven Sail plan optimisation service

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EcoSail (Eco-friendly and customer-driven Sail plan optimisation service)

Reporting period: 2020-11-01 to 2021-10-31

The ‘Blue Economy’ is a key driver of the EU economy as well as of world-wide importance for the import/export of affordable energy, food and goods. However, rising fuel prices, a drop in charter rates and increased environmental restrictions have put serious pressures on the profitability of commercial shipping and the sustainability of affordable import/export. With fuel costs contributing up to 60% of a ship’s operating costs, UNCTAD has shown that a 10% increase in oil prices raises costs to ship a container by 3.6% and one ton of iron or crude oil by 10.5% and 2.8% respectively. Furthermore, the rising environmental footprint of shipping (3%/4% of global/EU greenhouse emissions) has led to the EU maritime MRV regulation, requiring ship owners & operators to annually monitor, report and verify CO2 emissions for vessels larger than 5,000GT.

EcoSail represents a giant leap forward from current state-of-the-art, with clear operational benefits for the global maritime sector compared to current sail planning products. Now a verified and demonstratable prototype, EcoSail’s ability for voyage optimisation will allow ship operators to achieve (and validate) fuel savings from 3% to 10% which is in line with the estimated 7% goal which was set in the EcoSail Project and avoid hazardous weather conditions (leading to reduced wear and tear, reduced maintenance costs and extension of a ship’s operational lifetime). Exemplifying EcoSail’s market-disruptive potential, a 7% decrease in vessel fuel consumption for i.e. a very large crude carrier (VLCC) or a medium-size container vessel can lead to average annual reductions of 2,520 tons of fuel, 5,544 tons of CO2 and 158 tons of SOx. Such 7% fuel saving will annually lead up to €3.5m in cost savings per ship.

The EcoSail system provides sustainable sail plan service system by incorporating metocean data, self-learning ship performance and multi-objective voyage optimization models, provides advanced decision support systems allowing end-users to optimize ships’ sailing routes and time schedule as to obtain the lowest possible fuel consumption and air emissions, accurate estimation of Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), enhanced ship/cargo safety and passenger comfort, etc. The overall objective of this project is to address and implement the technical and commercial roadmaps developed in our preceding R&D projects to enable a rapid and successful commercialisation of EcoSail, by upgrading, testing & validation of final prototype to TRL9 in real work environment (WP1 &3), developing training programs (WP2), promoting EcoSail system exploitation, marketing & sales (WP4 &5), and ensuring smooth operations, implement innovation management, financial management, IP monitoring and protection, achieve and deliver a final Business Innovation Plan (BIP) and Commercialisation Plan (CP) (WP6).

We achieved technical maturation objectives as part of final prototyping and upgrading activities. We introduced a training program under WP2. The overall aim in WP3 was to elevate our EcoSail service prototype to TRL9 which we achieved through validation.

We ensured the EcoSail value chain is optimised to handle increased sales volumes when launched and further cover all activities related to commercialisation of the EcoSail service. WP5 was to communicate and disseminate the project’s results which we achieved despite the impact of the pandemic. In WP6 ensured smooth operations, implemented innovation management, financial management, continued IP monitoring and protection, achieved, and delivered out final Business Innovation Plan (BIP) and Commercialisation Plan (CP).
The main work in WP1 was build the system for evaluation in WP3. Specific tasks began on metocean data sources for weather forecasts, route optimization and ship models, big data and machine learning, and GUI implementations. The main achievement has been an in-house archive of metocean data for training and testing of machine learning solutions. End-users have identified benefits to using the system for short sea voyages. The explanation for this would in some cases mainly depend on the fact that we are using several forecasts models in combination with global and regional models, where the spatial and temporal resolution of the regional models is much better than the global models. We have focused more use of metocean data as they improve the forecasting.

In WP2, the actual benefits of improving the accuracy of estimating a ship’s fuel consumption and weather impact, and reducing fuel consumption by planning a ship’s voyage from the EcoSail route optimizer module, has been validated for several typical sailing scenarios in 3 common shipping segments. Training materials regarding the EcoSail system, and its SWOT analysis in comparison with competition were formulated.

In WP 3, GUI was improved in preparation for pilot testing in WP3. We incorporated valuable feedback from end-users, finalized the GUI. A well-informed user finds the system intuitive and relies on this information for voyage planning saving time and fuel. Through large-scale piloting and validation -we have been able to achieve (and validate) fuel savings from 3% to 10% which is in line with the estimated 7% goal which was set in the EcoSail Project.

During this period we have also ramped up our commercialization activities & finalized our Business Innovation and Commerlizartion Plan, identifying primary competitors and viable partners, reinforcing our IPR protection strategy. Despite the restrictive impact of the pandemic, partners engaged in dissemination activities, making use of the networking opportunities in online webinars and conferences.
The project made significant socio-economic contributions that fall in line with the EU's climate imperatives going forward. Efficient ship operation aids in lowering climatic impact and in aligning with reliable energy supply for Europe helping optimize transport of passengers. In helping reduce the environmental impact of European maritime transport (e.g. by improving sail planning and thereby reducing emissions and environmental pollution), and so forth, the socio-economic impact is measurable. Clearly, this initiative would make European products more competitive in the global shipping market and encourage cleaner transport solutions with less fuel consumption and reduced environmental impact of (European) shipping transport. The latter will further have a positive effect on the quality of life for seafarers and the people living in the coastal zones.

MEcosail will contribute towards policy developments within e-navigation strategy. E-navigation is seen as a strategic framework for developing existing $ future technological infrastructure onboard. This project fully in compliance with this strategy, and beyond the scope of this project, it will nonetheless contribute to almost all aspects of the future e-navigation strategy creating an opportunity to optimize the e-navigation developments and ensure that the focus of future developments is on a holistic approach to safe navigation from berth to berth (cf. IMO definition). It is therefore important to cooperate within this strategic development and particularly promote the system as a foregoing system with e-Navigation capabilities.
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