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Eco-friendly and customer-driven Sail plan optimisation service

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EcoSail (Eco-friendly and customer-driven Sail plan optimisation service)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2020-10-31

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 gas 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 demonstrated prototype at TRL7, EcoSail’s ability for voyage optimisation will allow ship operators to increase fuel efficiency by 7%, decrease emissions by 7%, and more accurately 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. In monetary terms, for these vessels, such 7% fuel saving will annually lead up to €3.5m in cost savings per ship.

The EcoSail system will provide a sustainable sail plan service system that, by incorporating EO data (e.g. Copernicus data) and self-learning ship performance and multi-objective voyage optimization models, can provide an advanced decision support system allowing end-users to optimize their 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).

To achieve our technical maturation objectives as part of our commercialisation plan in WP1, specifically, we will implement prototype optimisations planned according to the results from our initial ‘beta tests’ from our preceding projects. To further upgrade human resources and competences, we will introduce a training program for the relevant audience under WP2. Based on the input from the technology maturation activities in WP1-3, the overall aim in WP3 is to elevate our EcoSail service prototype to reach TRL9. This will be achieved through validation in real-life settings.

In WP 4 we want to ensure that the entire EcoSail value chain is prepared and optimised to handle the increased sales volumes expected when launched and further cover all activities directly related to the commercialisation of the EcoSail service. The objective of WP5 is to communicate and disseminate the project’s results. Finally, in WP6 we want to ensure smooth operations, implement innovation management, financial management, IP monitoring and protection, achieve and deliver a final Business Innovation Plan (BIP) and Commercialisation Plan (CP).
During the first period, project month 1 to 12 the main part of the work has been in WP1. In WP1 we have been building the system we are going to evaluate and test in WP3. The first months (1-4) focused on the requirements and resulted in D1.1 (the end user requirements). With the requirement document in mind the work branched off to the more specific tasks on EO data sources for metocean / weather forecasts, on route optimization and ship models, on big data and machine learning, and on GUI implementations.

In WP2, actual benefits of improving the accuracy of estimating a ship’s fuel consumption and weather impact by the EcoSail FCM module, and reducing fuel consumption by planning a ship’s voyage from the EcoSail route optimizer module, have been demonstrated and validated for several typical sailing scenarios in three common shipping segments. In addition, some training materials regarding the innovative concept of our EcoSail system, and its SWOT analysis in comparison with competitive sail planning systems have been formulated.

The user interface of the system is starting to get fit for the pilot testing in WP3. There are still some rough edges that frustrate the intended test users. In general, a well-informed user can handle the system and rely on the information for voyage planning and save time, fuel and the environment.

The work accomplished so far has showed that the system we are building has a great potential, the end-users in the project have identified great benefits 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 will focus on more use of EO data as they improve the forecasting.
The project significantly contributes to the society as efficient ship operation aid in providing reliable energy supply for Europe; help optimizing transport of passengers; help the environmental impact of European maritime transport (e.g. by improving sail planning and thereby reducing emissions and environmental pollution), and so forth. 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 live for seafarers and the people living in the coastal zones.

Moreover, the project will contribute towards standards and policy developments within the e-navigation strategy. E-navigation is seen as a strategic framework for developing existing and future technological infrastructure onboard. This project is in full compliance with this strategy, and though beyond the scope of this project, it will nonetheless contribute on almost all aspects of the future e-navigation strategy creating an opportunity to optimise 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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