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Tired of Talking Green: SEEMP Is a Good First Step

December 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Port Services & Renewables

Discussing maritime technology without the marketing clichés

But more is needed to achieve meaningful carbon reductions.

By Wendy Laursen

For some ship operators, the mandatory introduction of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans (SEEMP) following the first survey after January 1, 2013 will lead to just another paper exercise, probably started and completed in December. SEEMP doesn’t include specific requirements for setting and meeting goals, and there is no formal procedure for energy-efficiency measurement, monitoring and reporting. The latest delay in its introduction further waters down the regulation.

This is why the industry should look to enhancing SEEMP and creating SEEMP Plus, says Helena Athoussaki, CEO of Carbon Positive in Greece. “My discussions with shipping companies currently developing SEEMPs show that, as key aspects are voluntary and therefore have no administrative teeth, they are likely to remain on the shelf. Precious fuel-cost savings and resulting energy efficiencies and emissions reductions will therefore be foregone.”

Establishing a Baseline

Assessing a vessel’s current energy efficiency to identify a baseline and then monitoring this using a standardized monitoring tool across the industry is a shipowner’s first step toward gaining a transparent picture of emissions, not only for individual companies but for the industry as a whole. A universally agreed methodology that allows for comparison over time would also be a valuable asset for owners and the industry, and this issue must be placed on the agenda for regulators, says Athoussaki. The recent EU statement announcing the introduction of its Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system next year further validates the importance of transparency in maritime carbon emissions data and, given these developments, shipowners will need to act proactively in the near future.

SEEMP does provide a voluntary tool for shipping companies to manage ship and fleet efficiency performance over time via the Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI). “However, the current SEEMP legislation does not include mandatory target setting and monitoring, providing little incentive for a company to announce their goals or results, and neither of these elements is currently subject to external inspection. An enhanced SEEMP, or SEEMP Plus, would call for specific measurable goals defined by the shipowner or operator that are agreed unilaterally, thereby standardizing monitoring and reporting to allow for comparable data and independent verification of targets achieved,” says Athoussaki.

Neither SEEMP nor ISO standards alone are sufficient to manage carbon risk – a carbon reduction program and its methodology should take into consideration both regulatory and commercial requirements. “Some companies want to challenge SEEMP and use it as a tool for actually reducing their footprint and becoming more energy efficient,” says Athoussaki. “These are the ones that see SEEMP in its next level, and these are the companies that will be in a better position to face the strongest competition and be preferred by charterers and financiers, who are actively looking for evidence of target-setting and scrutinizing methodology to reward a holistic approach to emissions reduction.”

To ensure transparency standardization, it is also important to introduce internal and third-party auditing of SEEMP. “Transparency shows you are confident, open and have nothing to hide. That definitely takes you to another level competitively,” Athoussaki explains.

It is a leadership position that is not forfeited by the publication of achievements as it based on corporate strategies and operational factors that are unique. However, the open publication of achievements does help shipping companies learn from the experience of others so they can sift through the many possible technical and operational changes advertised by manufacturers with greater foresight.

Taking the Next Step

Progress industry-wide will generate a more positive image for shipping at a time when it is under increasing global pressure to manage its carbon emissions. There is a clear trend towards sustainability that cannot be prepared for a month before new regulations become mandatory, says Athoussaki, thinking of carbon emission-control areas, emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes.

Strategy at this level must come from the board, not technical superintendents, she says. “Somebody must say, ‘We need to take sustainability very seriously.’ I’m taking about sustainability in a broader sense, not just as a buzzword for energy efficiency because with the introduction of the Energy Efficiency Design Index, all vessels will eventually be energy-efficient. But you will always need something to monitor and report, something to base decisions on that will make you more competitive and more future-proof.”

During times of economic crisis, a tool like SEEMP can help achieve welcome reductions in fuel consumption. “It is good for shipping companies and it is good for the environment,” she concludes. “But the IMO must now take it to the next level.” – MarEx

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