The shipping industry is facing unprecedented pressure to clean up its act when it comes to the use of high-sulphur fuel.
This cheap, low-grade fuel causes around 400,000 premature deaths a year through heart and lung illnesses, according to research published in Nature. Cleaner fuel could almost halve these figures – with particular health benefits for people living close to ports and major shipping routes.
One container vessel consumes, on average, 80 tonnes of high-sulphur fuel a day – the equivalent of 46 million cars running on diesel – according to HSBC. So it’s no surprise that the shipping industry produces 13% of the world’s sulphur emissions and 15% of nitrogen oxides.
Transition to zero-emission shipping
But now the clock is ticking – a new 0.5% sulphur content cap for shipping fuel set by the International Maritime Organization will come into effect next year. Vessels will have to stop using high-sulphur fuel unless they install filters or use far more expensive compliant fuels.
Meanwhile, the UK government – in its Maritime 2050 report published earlier this year – has pledged to actively drive the transition to zero-emission shipping in UK waters by 2050.
So the pressure is on. There’s never been a better time to harness the power of big data to chart a course through the choppy waters threatening to capsize unwary shipping operators.
Big data analytics to share best practice
GeoSpock’s state-of-the-art spatial big data platform could monitor the behaviour of marine vessels to build a picture of their movements, help optimise shipping routes and identify activities that are key to reducing emissions. Port authorities could be automatically alerted as to which ships they should select for on-board fuel inspections.
Visualising and exploring a global picture of harmful emissions makes it possible to compare ports around the world and share best practice. Combined with sensors to monitor ships’ fuel tanks, the technology could unlock valuable analytical insights into trade routes – looking at fuel consumption in different weather conditions, for example, and at different speeds to reveal optimum approaches to keep emissions to a minimum.
The global maritime sector has been described as the lifeblood of international trade – transporting more than 80% of all goods traded. Many other transport modes have reached the practical limits of scale, yet maritime container ships continue to respond to economic forces – more than doubling in size within a generation.
The digital revolution could now hold the key to the next generation of shipping. On the horizon is an industry that is not only more efficient and cost-effective but also environmentally friendly. That’s good news for our own health as well as that of the planet.
To learn more about how the GeoSpock spatial big data platform can unlock insights in your data or to see a product demo, get in touch and a member of our team will contact you.
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