Improving the energy efficiency of ships has been a prominent issue in the maritime sector for a while now. But, it was largely a matter of discretion, and shipowners were expected — but not obligated — to drive energy efficiency on their vessels. 

This has changed with IMO, the governing body of the maritime sector, taking steps to make ship and fleet efficiency mandatory. Thus, the MARPOL Annex VI was amended, and chapter IV on the efficiency of a ship was included. 

Why Does It Matter to Have a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)?

With the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), IMO implemented an action plan to address growing concerns over increasing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. EEDI, used in monitoring harmful emissions such as CO2 from ships, helps improve machinery operations and hull design. This further aids in cutting down CO2 emissions by making the ship more fuel-efficient. 

While EEDI is a concept brought in for newly built ships, SEEMP has been developed as a special tool for the existing fleet. As a practical approach to managing the efficiency of a ship, it uses the Energy Efficiency Operational Indicator (EEOI) as an index to monitor fleet operating performance over time. 

As a shipowner, it is considered your responsibility to develop and implement a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP), making operations more cost-effective and energy-efficient in the long run.

SEEMP can be implemented in various ways to improve the energy efficiency of a ship such as heat recovery method installations, changing course to avoid rough weather, vessel speed optimization, and dry docking for hull cleaning. It is worth noting that this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Several factors, primarily the ship type, go a long way in determining an appropriate plan. As a result, you cannot have a single Ship Energy Efficient Management Plan for your fleet or company.

A single SEEMPcannot be used even for two sister ships since their operating conditions are bound to differ. Before creating the plan, you need to estimate the current levels of energy consumption for the vessel and then proceed with implementing measures for reducing the same.

The Main Features of Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan

Energy management policy at the corporate level: Every ship has its own unique efficiency management plan. Let’s say there are multiple ships under operation in your company. In that case, it is imperative that you design a more comprehensive energy management policy for the entire fleet and then build on that base to develop a more customized SEEMPfor every vessel type.

Ship efficiency enhancement: This plan is primarily designed to make a ship more energy efficient in the long run by implementing the correct, optimized methods to reduce fuel and energy consumption.

Reduced fuel consumption: Wouldn’t it be great if you could save a substantial amount on shipping fuel for your daily fleet operations? One of the most critical functions of SEEMP is implementing methods to help reduce overall fuel consumption. This helps reduce fuel costs and addresses the issue of air pollution to a great extent.

Reduced vehicular GHG emissions: An energy efficiency plan recommends methods that help reduce fuel consumption, and suggests the use of alternative fuels, thus enabling shipowners to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and work towards building a greener future.

The Four Steps in Implementing SEEMP

Though unique to every ship, implementing a SEEMP involves a 4-step process.

1. Planning

Planning is crucial for the correct implementation of a method. In an energy efficiency plan, you look at your ship’s current energy consumption levels and then assess ways of reducing it by putting in place an effective strategy. Your company must gather all the necessary data inputs such as hull and paint conditions, machinery and systems efficiency, installed machinery, and fuel usage. Once you have all the data, you need to refer to your company’s generic energy management policy as a base around which the final SEEMP for the ship is to be designed.

2. Implementation

A plan needs to be followed up with a charter of how the selected measures can be implemented. In the Ship Energy Efficient Management Plan,you need to clearly define the implementation methods as well as the roles & responsibilities of all concerned stakeholders. The implementation process needs to be drawn up at the planning stage to enable smooth, timely execution of the overall efficiency management plan on the target vessel. It is also vital that you maintain proper records throughout the implementation stage. In this way, you can refer to these later for self-evaluation and improve your plan to make it more effective.

3. Monitoring

After implementing a SEEMP,you need to monitor the performance and evaluate its effectiveness. EEOI is a pre-determined and approved technical and operational measuredesigned to international standards that helps to monitor the efficiency plan performance. EEOI is determined by analyzing the fuel consumption in a ship for a particular voyage when it is carrying a certain amount of cargo.

There are other measurements and monitoring methods for you to use as well. It is crucial to clearly mention the monitoring method to be used at the planning stage along with details on using the same. This will make it easier to put into practice by the end-users.

4. Self-evaluation and Improvement

Once you start monitoring and getting results, you need to evaluate them further to understand whether your SEEMPis effective or not. Constructive feedback is important in this final stage, and you can rely on the inputs from your self-evaluation to further enhance and improvise the plan if you deem it necessary. All four steps are interdependent and work hand-in-hand, evolving towards building a complete energy efficiency management plan. As the ship operator, you need to ensure that data and feedback from every stage of the cycle is assessed and used to improve the energy efficiency of ships.

What Part Do Seafarers Play in SEEMP?

One cannot discount the role of seafarers if we wish to implement an effective SEEMP onboard your ship. They will also help provide the necessary performance reports and feedback to the shore office, serving a crucial role in collecting valuable information that will help in further plan enhancements.

Some of the essential seafarer roles in a SEEMP are as follows:

  • Accurate procedure implementation as detailed in the plan.
  • Performance monitoring in line with the plan procedures and assessing the impact on ship operations.
  • Reporting on plan performance for further evaluation by the company.
  • Establishing a sustainability culture onboard the ship towards further energy efficiency improvement.
  • Efficient cargo management when at port to prevent unwanted delays and follow a proper maintenance plan to avoid machinery breakdown.
  • Optimized voyage planning through the use of appropriate modern navigation techniques.

Final Words

SEEMP is more than a set of operating rules. It is a framework that needs to evolve so that ship owners and fleet managers can both drive and benefit from better energy-saving solutions. A dependent seafarer is a key stakeholder in helping improvise the management plan along with the ship managers and port operators. Robust and reliable performance monitoring systems will help you gather accurate data from your ships for optimizing your ship and fleet efficiency.