Can big data’ ensure global enforcement of the IMO’s requirements for sulphur emissions?

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

01 December 2016


In the wake of the IMO's requirements for a substantial reduction in sulphur emissions from shipping, there is still a big question mark over how the requirements are to be enforced globally. The result is unequal competition with huge losses for shipping companies. According to Danfoss IXA, there is a solution but it requires the ship owners themselves to take responsibility for proving compliance. ”As it stands now, there is very limited incentive to comply with the law as emissions are only monitored sporadically. This means that the law-abiding ship owners will find themselves in a very unequal competitive situation in 2020 in the global shipping industry, where fuel is such a crucial factor for prices. That’s why we are hearing shipping companies announce that billions of dollars are at stake,” says Frank Hansen, CEO of Danfoss IXA, a company that collaborates with global shipping companies all over the world with the monitoring of emissions of SO2, NOx and NH3. Turn losses into profit by taking responsibility IMO has yet to respond to the question of how global enforcement shall be carried out on the oceans of the world. At the same time, the responsibility for documenting breaches of the law lies with the authorities, but these have no effective tools for identifying infringements and issuing fines. ”We have witnessed exactly the same scenario with Tier lll in the area of NOx emissions, where the responsibility for proving compliance has now shifted to the engine suppliers and, ultimately, the ship owners. This ensures a level playing field, which is precisely what the big shipping companies are clamouring for with the new IMO requirements. If the ship owners are given the responsibility for proving compliance, the shipping companies that can document they always comply with the requirements obtain a competitive advantage and could potentially turn losses of billions of dollars into profit,” says Frank Hansen. Big data proves compliance According to Danfoss IXA, the majority of Tier lll ships that have been built after 1 January 2016 are equipped with SCR and thus an NOx emission sensor. In addition, more and more new ships being built have emission sensors installed that can measure just NOx or the whole range of emissions of SO2, NOx and NH3. ”The equipment is in place on more and more new ships, and we can see that, in the Far East, more and more engine suppliers are fitting sensors. As a result, it's now about using the data and making it accessible to ship owners and authorities. This may happen using a cloud solution in which the data is sent at fixed intervals, and from here it is shared with the relevant authorities,” says Frank Hansen. Emissions can thus be monitored on an ongoing basis, and the authorities can assess whether ships registered in the IMO are compliant or not. ”The technology is ready, and the ships have the platform in place to be able to develop the documentation. In the existing IMO fleet also, it is possible to retrofit emissions equipment in just 24 hours and thereby be able to document compliance. It is clear that investment is required, but the options are in place today,” says Frank Hansen.