Looking to the cloud: connectivity and data as key ingredients for CII compliance

Looking to the cloud: connectivity and data as key ingredients for CII compliance

The IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) regulations will put a letter grade next to a ship, based on its carbon efficiency in operation. This will immediately provide environmentally conscious charterers with a simple and publicly available rating system, on which they may base future decisions – and create a risk of action for non-compliance in the coming years.

A particularly high CII rating comes with its own rewards. Any operator that can clearly demonstrate its environmental credentials is significantly more attractive to charterers and cargo owners, creating a bankable premium. For even the most reluctant market players, carbon taxes, expensive future fuels and imminent market-based decarbonisation measures will create a perfect storm to make decarbonisation a priority.

At the same time, a ‘green’ ship is not guaranteed a good CII rating and an old vessel is not guaranteed a poor one. The reality is that how a vessel is operated will define a vessel’s carbon efficiency.

The CII formula means that a ship standing idle at anchor will see its rating dramatically fall, even if they have the most efficient engine and other technologies installed. The same is true when a vessel is travelling at the wrong speed or travelling through adverse weather.

Yet, increasing efficiency and earnings do not need to be mutually exclusive; more and more stakeholders are realising that there does not need to be a trade-off between profitability and sustainability. Today, the industry is empowered with the data to prioritise both.

High throughput, low latency satellite connectivity is enabling shipowners to collect, analyse, and use this data.

Digitalising efficiency

New cloud-based technologies, such as weather routing and voyage optimisation, have the potential to maximise carbon efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of any vessel today. For example, by combining comprehensive weather data with information from onboard sensors and cloud-based AI, satellite enabled connectivity can deliver immediate and adaptable insights that can cut emissions from day one.

This carries significant emissions, fuel consumption and cost savings. One operator found that this approach reduced fuel consumption by 144MT and cut 448MT in CO2 emissions, generating an additional $56,000 in profit for their bulk carrier’s voyage. With the introduction of CII, these savings and efficiency boosts prove particularly valuable, not only because they maximise payback on investment, but also because this capital can be reinvested into other decarbonisation initiatives.

The overlap between digitalisation and decarbonisation does not end here.
Shipowners are increasingly seeing efficiency gains from connectivity-enabled technologies across their onboard machinery, including in engines, ballast tanks, and deck systems.

This optimisation is delivered through hundreds of onboard cloud-connected sensors, which measure dozens of critical parameters for AI-driven analysis that can be fed directly back into system controls. This requires reliable, high-bandwidth connectivity wherever a vessel sails, and for an industry as global as shipping, there is no limit on how remote the route can be.

Some vessels have as many as 150 applications operating onboard, underlining that seamless cloud connectivity is now a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have. Working with some of the largest shipowners in the world, SES’s connectivity has been enabling the use of thousands of sensors and cloud-based applications.

In tangible terms, this allows vessel and shoreside teams to collaborate and optimise operations to meet environmental targets. In addition to this, access to real-time data allows all parties to proactively prioritise a vessel’s safety using real-time data on a vessel’s GM curve or the status of watertight doors.

Therefore, it is important for connectivity providers to work closely with major cloud providers, like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, to provide direct links to data centres – which cuts out lag and improves reliability.

All these efficiency-based applications will help shipowners to achieve or maintain good CII ratings in the most profitable way possible, when regulations enter into force next year. Good connectivity is thus a vital asset that can deliver sustainable, efficient and safer shipping for ambitious organisations.

This article has been published in Splash 24/7.