Innovation often stems from adversity and the prevailing financial climate has fathered many new technologies, fuels and tools that are being introduced to the market. However interesting they may seem, shipowners and operators must be presented with a sound business case enabling them to understand exactly how a vessel will benefit. It is crucial that they completely understand the ROI that each solution promises and how that will impact future operating costs. Common sense dictates that the industry will be much more receptive to a proven, measurable technology than one with hypothetical, unverified projections. In today’s operating environment, risk aversion is a necessity.
Despite the current downturn in fuel prices, the market remains challenging and many companies have turned to ‘clean tech’ for existing vessels and newbuilds to improve efficiency, environmental credibility, and to deliver a competitive edge. The multiple technologies available range from air lubrication or harnessing wind power which have the power to deliver dramatic savings, to fuel additives and software solutions that can provide more subtle changes or decision support. Each provides its own specific measurable data, and different conditions present unique variables that need to be filtered out of the results they produce. In addition, operational conditions vary significantly in the real world and deep analysis can demonstrate how technologies perform in actual working conditions. The one thing that they all have in common is that proven results verified by an objective third party are crucial to their commercial success.
As the breadth of solutions increases, securing the interest of the market becomes more difficult, which is why independent third-party data capture and analysis to provide easily understandable and tangible evidence for their claims is as critical as ever. Measurement and analysis conducted by credible and well-known industry data specialists provides a solid foundation from which to credibly communicate the potential of a technology to both potential clients and investors.
One such company which has adopted this approach is Nanol. Nanol Technologies, the producer of a patented high-performance lube oil additive, has verified that use of its product delivered a 2% reduction in fuel consumption on M/V Seagard, an operational Ro-Ro Cargo Vessel. Fuel calorific value, operating conditions and typical engine load range all formed part of the analytical process to ensure the accuracy of the savings. As a result of the verification the vessel’s charterer, Transfennica, will continue its use on the M/V Seagard and consider extending deployment to other vessels in its fleet. In addition, Nanol has also secured the opportunity to meet with venture capitalists to support its future growth.
Norsepower’s Rotor Sail Solution is another example of a company leveraging verification to its commercial advantage. Norsepower offers a modernised version of the Flettner rotor, a spinning cylinder using the Magnus effect to harness wind power to deliver forward thrust. When the wind conditions are favourable, Norsepower Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions while providing the power needed to maintain speed levels and retain voyage time.
One Norsepower Rotor Sail was installed as a trial on Finnish shipowner, Bore’s, 9,700 DWT Ro-Ro carrier, M/V Estraden. ClassNK-NAPA Green monitoring and analysis was also installed to verify the efficiency savings delivered by the Rotor Sail. To deliver an accurate result it was essential to take into account factors such as wave and wind resistance, propeller efficiency and the effect of different drafts and tide conditions. By continuously monitoring the ship’s performance NAPA identified the baseline efficiency for a vessel without the technology active. With this baseline in place analysis can identify and filter out the effects of waves, tides and draft on fuel consumption. From this analysis NAPA was able to confirm a fuel saving of 2.5% from a single Rotor Sail.
As a result of the proven effectiveness of this technology, Bore installed a second Rotor Sail on the same vessel, the first commercial order of the technology. This installation has also been verified by NAPA with fuel savings of 6.1% recorded on the vessel with the addition of the second Rotor, more than doubling previously recorded savings.
This data analysis and verification has been fundamental to Norsepower’s business development by proving the effectiveness and applicability of its technology on operational commercial vessels. A syndicate led by Power Fund III, a clean tech venture fund managed by VNT Management, has now invested €3 million to support Norsepower’s growth and market expansion. In addition to the expanded market potential offered by the first commercial purchase, this evidence has also helped Norsepower increase its enterprise value and protect the ongoing commercial activities of the company.
Operational data collection and advanced statistical analysis is not only adding value to the OEMs by independently verifying their claims, it is also reducing risk across the entire industry by ensuring investment certainty. By delivering proven data to confirm that efficiency technologies, hull antifouling, maintenance programmes or operational policy are having the expected impact, big data is providing the business intelligence needed for the industry to make confident and informed progress.