How Smartship project supports the transition of the maritime sector to the Circular Economy

The maritime transport sector is responsible for more than 75% of the European Union’s external trade and is projected to grow in global shipping volume. A landmark study by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) shows that ships produce 13.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) caused by transportation in the EU. Other significant impacts of the sector include the doubling of the underwater noise levels in EU waters between 2014 -2019 and the introduction of half of all the non-indigenous species introduced into European seas since 1949[1].

In this respect identifying viable strategies to mitigate the sector’s impact on the environment is more urgent than ever. The Circular Economy Alliance (CEA) is actively involved in this arena of combating the negative environmental impacts of the maritime sector through its close collaboration with CERC supporting the input and contributions in the Smartship consortium.  CEA is supporting CERC in its role as the exploitation and dissemination coordinator of the activities of the Smartship consortium by proliferating the outcomes to relevant communities affiliated with the Alliance and benefitting from their ground-breaking inputs. Additionally, CEA facilitates, when necessary, the input and feedback gathering process with regard to circularity requirements and indicators that may be used to enhance the use cases.

The consortium is comprised of 7 partners from European countries including academic institutions, maritime industry leaders, and information technology companies. The aim of the project is to optimize fuel consumption, energy efficiency, and emissions control management based on circular economy concepts and the use of enabling technologies to provide an integrated ICT framework for the sustainable, individualized, and automated energy management of ships[2]. The project brings together partners from different domains and sectors and provides a platform for knowledge exchange and the opportunity for the academic, the ICT, and industry experts to work together in identifying innovative and holistic solutions for the maritime sector. The Circular Economy principles of designing out waste and reducing pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems provide the framework to look for energy-efficient solutions for the reduction of fuel consumption, designs for ships and engines to optimize engine performance, the use of cleaner fuels and the adoption of appropriate exhaust cleaning systems.

The project is aiming for innovative solutions that can drive value creation while reducing the negative impact on the planet. This is made possible by the collaboration of the ICT and maritime domains aiming to integrate data analysis with the circular economy principles to create an effective value loop based on the premise that information can create value if it is used to adjust future action as part of a continuous learning process.  This approach can establish an autonomous management system appropriate for the circular economy by design which creates value while ensuring a ship’s energy efficiency and emissions management.

Smartship is fundamentally an interdisciplinary research project which will contribute to the development of new and long-term research collaborations between the academia, ICT, and maritime actors involved, achieve transfer of knowledge and drive research and innovation at the European and global level.



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