Technology Verification: Building Commercial Credibility

Norsepower's Rotor Sails

By Jouni Salo 2016-08-21 17:57:19

Challenging the status quo when it comes to technological innovation is essential in today’s market. But with the number of fuel saving technologies available to shipowners, operators and charterers, never before has it been so important for technology manufacturers and service suppliers to be able to prove their value to customers. 

Shipowners and charters need investment certainty and, more and more, they will not take chances by investing their limited funds in unguaranteed results. A commercially viable return on investment is therefore essential for market viability, investment potential and business growth.

Measurement and analysis conducted by credible and well-known industry data specialists provides a solid foundation from which to transparently communicate the potential of a technology to both prospective clients and investors.

Despite the current downturn in fuel prices, overcapacity and increased transparency mean that companies continue to face significant competition and many have turned to “clean tech” for existing vessels and newbuilds to improve efficiency, environmental credibility and gain a competitive edge. While the fuel savings achieved now may not be as compelling as they were at the height of the market, savings continue to be vitally important to shipowners and charterers bottom lines. 

The technologies available are varied in type, offer and the scale of savings they deliver. From air lubrication for hulls and wind propulsion that can offer double-digit savings, to fuel emulsions or engine lubricants that offer more marginal gains, the appetite for tangible cost or efficiency savings is evident across the industry. Each solution presents its own specific measurable data, and varying conditions present unique variables that need to be filtered out of the results they produce. But the one thing that they all have in common is that proven, third party results are crucial to commercial success.

One such company that has adopted this approach to verify its claims is Nanol. Nanol Technologies, the producer of a patented high-performance lube oil additive, has verified that its product delivered a two percent reduction in fuel consumption on M/V Seagard, an operational Ro-Ro Cargo Vessel. Fuel calorific value, operating conditions and typical engine load range all formed part of the analytical process to ensure the accuracy of the saving. 

As a result of the verification the vessel’s charterer, Transfennica, will continue its use on the M/V Seagard and consider extending its use to other vessels in its fleet. It has also secured Nanol the opportunity to meet with venture capitalists to support its future growth.

Norsepower has also proven its technology through verification and reaped the commercial benefits. When the wind conditions are favorable, Norsepower Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions while providing the power needed to maintain speed levels and retain voyage time. 

Monitoring and analysis took into account factors such as wave and wind resistance, propeller efficiency and the effect of different drafts and tide conditions to verify the efficiency savings delivered. From this analysis NAPA was able to confirm a fuel saving of 2.5 percent from a single Rotor Sail.

As a result of the proven effectiveness of this technology, Bore installed a second Rotor Sail on the same vessel, which represented the first commercial order of Norsepower’s technology. The two Rotor Sails are now delivering fuel savings of 6.1 percent, more than doubling previous savings. This commercial success and verified savings led Power Fund III, a clean tech venture fund managed by VNT Management, to invest €3 million ($3.5 million) to support Norsepower’s growth and market expansion.

Some have predicted that the current market situation could stifle innovation, but in reality we have seen various shipboard eco-efficiency technologies flourishing and new technologies being unveiled on a regular basis designed to transform the environmental impact of the shipping industry. 

By ensuring investment certainty in eco-technologies through advanced data measurement and analysis the risk associated for the industry is lowered, leading to increased growth opportunities for manufacturers and increased choice and transparency for potential customers. By using real-time monitoring and analysis, companies are being given the chance to stand out from others claiming the same operational savings, and establish themselves as a respected and proven manufacturer. 

This commercial credibility, which comes hand in hand with third-party verification, is vital to success in today’s shipping industry.  

Jouni Salo is Product Manager, Shipping Solutions at NAPA

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.