Implementing energy management systems in shipping – a short introduction to the research project

This blog reports the progress of a research project conducted at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden – “Implementing Energy Management Systems in Shipping”. Related themes are also discussed. The project focuses on understanding and developing best practice for shipping companies who want to become more energy efficient.

An action research approach is taken into implementing an energy management system according to ISO 50001 and the IMO Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) in two Swedish shipping companies – Laurin Maritime and Transatlantic. Part of this research is also DNV, supporting with knowledge from their own energy efficiency projects. The project is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and will run from 2010-2013. From 2013-2015, the results will be generalized through an expanded project.

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Maritime Energy Management course just launched

How do shipping companies that are great at energy efficiency do it? I’ve written before about how this is an unchartered area in education (and I’d say still largely unchartered in research). About two years ago, I was asked to start drafting a course on this topic for a new M.Sc. programme in Maritime Management. That course has finally materialized and is now into its second week here at Chalmers.

The course is divided into three parts. First, the students will familiarize themselves with climate change science and policy – the global processes as well as those centered on shipping (EU, IMO) – and the role of energy efficiency in mitigating GHG emissions. The goal is thus for students to understand the societal need for greater energy efficiency in shipping. Dr. Charlotte Billgren of the Swedish Transport Agency will also provide students with a guest lecture on the diplomatic negotiations in the EU and the IMO – to get an appreciation for the work behind final regulations. This part of the course will be tested through a home exam.

The second part consists of lectures on energy efficiency in shipping companies. This part of the course has been modeled after the consultancy work of DNV-GL, where energy efficiency is typically divided into six parts – voyage performance management, ship performance management, fuel (bunkering) management, main and auxiliary engine, secondary energy users (boilers, pumps, fans etc.), and overall organization and management. Mikael Johansson of DNV-GL in Gothenburg has produced some great course literature for this part of the course.

The final and perhaps most important part of the course is the student projects. Energy efficiency in shipping companies is a rather new field of practice and companies have different approaches based on their resources, business models, competence, interests etc. Rather than having a final exam, the students will perform small projects in groups at Swedish shipping companies. I’ve had discussion meetings with Stena Line, Wallenius Marine and Laurin Maritime, and we were not lost for project ideas. Out of twelve project concepts, we’ve chosen four for this year’s course. They all revolve around understanding the role of the ship crew in energy efficient ship operations.

Projects will be presented here at Chalmers Lindholmen campus on the 16th of January 2015. I’ll post about this again, but please send me an email if you are interested in coming.



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New paper: “Cost-effective choices of marine fuels in a carbon-constrained world: results from a global energy model”

This paper, just published in Environmental Science & Technology, is the result of a collaborative project between the Maritime Environment research group (to which I belong) and the Division of Physical Resource Theory at Chalmers. My own contribution to this paper was limited – it was mostly discussing, reading, and some writing. The actual modeling work was done by Maria Taljegård (as a continuation of her excellent M.Sc. thesis), Selma Brynolf and Maria Grahn. But I mention it here anyway; it is a very nice paper. Abstract below:

The regionalized Global Energy Transition model has been modified to include a more detailed shipping sector in order to assess what marine fuels and propulsion technologies might be cost-effective by 2050 when achieving an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 400 or 500 ppm by the year 2100. The robustness of the results was examined in a Monte Carlo analysis, varying uncertain parameters and technology options, including the amount of primary energy resources, the availability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, and costs of different technologies and fuels. The four main findings are: (i) it is cost-effective to start the phase out of fuel oil from the shipping sector in the next decade; (ii) natural gas-based fuels (liquefied natural gas and fossil methanol) are the most probable substitutes during the study period; (iii) availability of CCS, the CO2 target, liquefied natural gas tank cost and potential oil resources affect marine fuel choices significantly; and (iv) biofuels rarely play a major role in the shipping sector, due to limited supply and competition for bioenergy from other energy sectors.

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Presentation @ Research council of the Swedish Energy Agency

The council for the Swedish Energy Agency’s research programme “Energy efficiency in the transport sector” just visited Chalmers. Being funded 100% by this programme, I made a presentation of main research results as well as some unplanned spin-offs (the M.Sc. course in energy management, the project on speed reductions due to increased port efficiency, cooperation with Copenhagen Business School, etc.), and some research ideas for the future.

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New paper: “Barriers to energy efficiency in shipping”

Our paper “Barriers to energy efficiency in shipping” was just accepted for publication in the WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs. Abstract below:

The shipping industry shows potential for improvements in energy efficiency. Nonetheless, shipping companies appear reluctant to adopt these seemingly cost efficient technical and operational measures aiming at reducing energy costs. Such phenomenon is not specific to the shipping industry and is commonly referred to as the energy-efficiency gap. Decades of research in other sectors have contributed to the development of taxonomy of economic, organizational and psychological barriers that determine energy efficiency-gaps through the use of a variety of research frameworks. This article aims to apply this research in the shipping context through interviews, and review of existing literature and applications from other industries, with the objective of providing useful insight for shipping managers. The article discusses examples of barriers that are typical to shipping and that are related to information asymmetries and power structures within organizations. Managers of shipping firms are encouraged to look through their organizations in search of principal agent problems and power structures among the possible causes for energy-efficiency gaps in their companies’ operations and possibly strive towards organizational change.

It was originally presented in a draft form at the 2011 conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME). The paper was also included in a rewritten form in my licentiate thesis, which is more or less the version now accepted.

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Presentation @ Research Committee of the Swedish Shipowners’ Association

Today, I participated in a meeting of the Research Committee of the Swedish Shipowners’ Association. I made a presentation on current research projects at Chalmers and its partners on maritime energy efficiency, and possible future collaborative projects within this field.

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Lighthouse 2.0 – now with more energy efficiency

Thanks to the efforts of many, not the least Bengt-Olof Petersen who has been heading the change efforts for the past year, the maritime competence center Lighthouse has been upgraded from being mainly a concern for Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg to a national matter. The “new” center was launched today at Almedalsveckan, with the help of Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, minister of infrastructure. Bengt-Olof will now also be succeeded as director by Åsa Burman.

An important part of the work of Lighthouse 2.0 will revolve around four strategic research and innovation programs, one of which is – of course! – maritime energy efficiency. I was given the task to draft the contents of this program. A shorter text can be found on the Lighthouse webpage.

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Sustainability Science Congress 2014, University of Copenhagen

I’ll be presenting a poster on my latest research findings at the Sustainability Science Congress at the University of Copenhagen, during the 22nd to 24th of October this year. I just received an email of acceptance. The session in which I am presenting is entitled “From knowledge to action”. From the programme:

[A] a great number of technologies enabling climate mitigation as well as adaptation measures seem to be available. However, only few new technologies are implemented and few damaging practices are curbed effectively and in scale. It seems as if there is a knowledge-action gap and in some instances a lack of will to change, which can also be characterized as part of the knowledge gap… The ultimate goal of this session is to explore specific measures for triggering action in the area of climate mitigation and adaptation based on best available scientific insights while admitting the existence of controversy regarding the validity of “science.” Rethinking international law making, international law and its relevance in this field is within the range of possible measures – as well as changes in pricing various forms of energy, or strategies for improving decision-makers’ capabilities to perceive and process information on energy efficient or low-emission activities and to accept behavioral changes.

I’m much looking forward to this.

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Energy seminar at the Swedish Shipowners Association

The Swedish Shipowners Association organized an Energy Day for their members today at their premises. I was invited to give a presentation of my research project and in particular the course in Maritime Energy Management I am developing together with DNV-GL. A key part in my conception of this course is a project where small groups of students are given a shorter case to solve at a shipping company. This of course depends on the interest of these companies and I was glad to have many positive responses, ideas for projects and invitations to discuss this further.

The course will run for 10 weeks in the second year of the M.Sc. in Maritime Management programme at Chalmers, with the first opportunity being this Fall. The aim of the course is to introduce students to the developing field of practice that is maritime energy management, and prepare them for working in this field – in industry as well as in academia. The project will enable the students to get practical experience of current problems and will also connect our university closer to activities in industry.

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Seminar on business models and energy efficiency in shipping

René Taudal Poulsen, associate professor at Copenhagen Business School, and myself will  talk about energy monitoring practices in shipping companies in an open seminar at the Department of Shipping and Marine Technology at Chalmers, on the 7th of April, 13-15:

It is often said that what gets measured, gets done. When it comes to getting energy efficiency done, shipping companies can choose different ways to measure and assess their energy use. Some methods are more complex and accurate than others. Some increase workload onboard as well as ashore. Some companies introduce systems that are more complex but also decrease workload, freeing up time for improving performance rather than doing paperwork. Some prefer not to invest in crew training and installations onboard at all, as they would rather charter in vessels with crew on a short term basis.

Methods to monitor energy use are now increasingly in the spotlight due to ongoing policy-making processes to abate the climate impact of the shipping sector. The European Commission recently started a process to have all ships making EU-related voyages monitor and report amongst other aspects their energy use – the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) scheme. A concurrent discussion is taking place in the IMO. During this seminar, we will discuss why companies choose different means of monitoring, and how this depends on their business model; on what they choose to make and what they choose to buy. We argue that some business models make it much more difficult for shipping companies to work effectively with energy efficiency.

For more info, please click here. If you have any questions, please send me an email.

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1st Swedish Energy Management Research Day

I was at Linköping University on the 3rd of March on the 1st Swedish Energy Management Research Day, hosted by associate professor Patrik Thollander. The overarching purpose of the day was to discuss methods in studying energy efficiency and energy management. Participants represented a wide range of approaches, from quantitative analysis of computer-aided telephone surveys to action research (me). I gave a presentation on reflections on methodology I’d made up to the present when doing research on energy management practice, heavily influenced by Barbara Czarniawska’s course in qualitative field research, UFIS (Ute på Fältet, Inne vid Skrivbordet – roughly From the Field to the Desk), that I had just finished.

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