Blue sky thinking on the weather

The realities of shipping’s new decarbonisation regime suggest owners should be fully aware of the clear gains available for CII performance when weather optimised routing is integrated into ship performance analytics, writes Andreas Symeonidis, METIS Cyberspace Technology.

By Andreas Symeonidis,
Marketing & Partner Relations Manager
METIS Cyberspace Technology
Andreas Symeonidis

Entry into force of shipping’s Carbon Intensity Indicator has led to bloodletting over the International Maritime Organization mechanism devised to drive ship decarbonisation. 

Shipping interests have jumped on the apparent absurdities of an instrument which rates ships by grams of CO2 emitted per cargo-carrying capacity and nautical mile, rather than for real emissions. Logically, critics protest, the best CII rating would go to a ship slow steaming non-stop in ballast condition. 

Some see the CII as unenforceable, citing lack of clarity over the retribution a ship would face if consistently underperforming on CO2. With charterers also up in arms over responsibilities described in a new BIMCO CII Operations Clause for Time Charter Parties, the wrangling over CII looks far from finished. 

Nevertheless, whatever changes are made to CII, they will not challenge the progressive nature of a regulation which anticipates ship CIIs being reduced by 2% each year between 2023 and 2026, against a 2019 baseline. Furthermore, with the rule in operation, owners should already be evaluating their ships for CII to meet the IMO’s data collection system (DCS) reporting for 2024. 

Practically-minded owners may therefore be best served by responding to the situation at hand and focusing on how to optimise the operational performance of ships within the CII regime as it exists today. 

Weather report

According to an anti-CII broadside offered by INTERCARGO, there are several “factors that are out of shipowners’ and vessels’ control [which] will have a significant adverse impact on a vessel’s CII rating”. However, the inclusion of “adverse weather” on the list appears misplaced in an industry which pits its performance against the elements day-in, day-out.  

In fact, while none can ‘control’ the weather, significant developments in weather optimised routing are creating new ways for maritime AI to respond to enhance ship efficiency and CII performance. METIS recently secured aformal agreement with DTN to integrate its actionable weather-based decision-making into METIS Augmented Routing Optimisation. 

The aim of optimized weather routing is not simply to avoid all adverse weather completely, but to find the most efficient route which minimizes fuel consumption without compromising safety. Rather than making recommendations based on simulations and ‘retro-optimised’ data, it integrates a full evaluation of conditions from multiple sources into voyage route optimisation. As well as considering current and forecasted weather to plan the optimum voyage, the software recalculates based on real time data to adjust routing to climatic changes or in response to vessel performance.

Like METIS augmented routing, weather routing draws on the unique characteristics and specifications of individual ships and their cargoes to optimise speed, cost, fuel consumption and emissions performance/reporting. The integrated analytics cover not only the efficiency of the ship but its changing operating environment, meaning routing optimisation can adapt to conditions and to the relationships between different performance parameters. 

Just as METIS analytics optimize performance for machinery, hull fouling and damages, maintenance and repairs, fuel oil and crew skills on each and every vessel, Augmented Routing Optimisation can now adapt to weather conditions. 

At a time when owners seeking to decarbonise are confronted by any number of energy saving devices, alternative energy sources and carbon reduction solutions, there will be an understandable curiosity over the potential CII gains available to a solution based solely in software. Historically, according to a 2014 International Association of Maritime Universities report, those using weather routing could save ‘more than 3% in fuel consumption’. By 2022, an industry case involving ‘retro-optimised’ data in combination with weather routing software was said to be offering gains equivalent to a 5-6% CII rating.

Today, to prove once again that it’s not what happens but how you respond to it that matters, METIS can disclose that a container ship deploying augmented routing optimisation with integrated weather routing optimisation can hope to improve its CII performance by as much as 10%.