DeepSea Technologies, an Al-led maritime technology company and energy efficiency experts, hosted a panel discussion during COP 28 in Dubai this week, discussing the industry’s challenges and potential solutions, including sharing views on shipping’s inclusion in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS).
The panel, held at the Hellenic Pavillion in the COP 28 Blue Zone, was titled: ‘Getting maritime shipping to net zero by 2050: Can it be done?’ and featured Dr Konstantinos Kyriakopoulos, CEO, DeepSea Technologies; Mr Andreas Enger, CEO, Höegh Autoliners; Ms Katerina Bodouroglou, MD, STEM Shipping; Mr Stamatis Tsantanis, CEO, Seanergy Maritime; and Mr Vassilis Triantafyllos, Special Advisor to the Secretary General for Energy and Mineral Resources, Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy.
“COP 28 is the time to get real,” DeepSea’s Dr Kyriakopoulos said, pointing to the abundance of discussion around ‘pilot projects’ and grand strategies. Exploring the greatest obstacles to meeting current targets, he likened shipping to a ‘dinosaur industry’, citing how most ships are still communicating with shore-based teams via one manual email per day.
“The truth is that most companies still don’t really understand how their ships behave,” he said, referring to the recent DeepSea research, which found that survey respondents considered their knowledge of their own fleets’ performance to be at 80%,leaving a chasm of 20% – a hugely significant number given what this equates to in terms of latent efficiency of both carbon and other emissions and ultimately, dollars and cents.
Turning to regulation, and how to best support shipping in its net-zero ambitions, the panel offered their thoughts on the role of individual governments and industry organisations, in comparison to global institutions.
“Shipping is a truly global industry and should be regulated as such,” said Ms Bodouroglou, going on to share concerns about shipping’s inclusion in the EU ETS. “Imposing regional measures such as EU ETS could harm both European-controlled shipping and the European port sector – it’s the politics of good intentions with bad outcomes. The EU should focus its resources on constructive research and international lobbying rather than undermining the competitiveness of its champion industries. Retaining its maritime independence is of vital importance for Europe’s economy and political future.”
In defence of the EU ETS, Mr Tsantanis explained how it sheds light on the true cost of carbon. “Consumers don’t know what carbon costs. The EU ETS helps to increase awareness of this – by enhancing visibility, traders are made aware of what that cost is.”
“The ETS is scary and expensive, but it works,” Mr Triantafyllos observed. Dr Kyriakopoulos commented: “It’s not perfectly designed, but it is a manifestation of the EU’s will to tackle the problem. We should look forward to opportunities to refine it in the future – it’s a force for good, allowing us to direct our efforts across different sectors, towards the same goal.”
Weighing in on the importance of actively adopting currently available technologies, Höegh Autoliners’ Mr Enger said: “There is not one solution to decarbonisation. Fuel is one part, but efficiency is another. Embracing digitalisation is crucial to the green agenda. Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions stand at the forefront of this digital transformation, with these solutions having the potential to achieve a notable 5-10% fuel and emissions savings through voyage planning and route optimisation.”
Mr Tsantanis of Seanergy Maritime, said: “We’re instead investing in energy saving solutions, like DeepSea’s AI tools and innovative hull coatings.”
“As mentioned already, software capable of providing full, crystal-clear detail on vessel operations is available now,” said Mr Kyriakopoulos. “These solutions are being adopted by those ship owners who are looking to. not only stay ahead of tightening regulations, but also continue, fundamentally, to be operationally viable and commercially successful.”