Monday, 6 October 2014


Taking one for the team!
We won! 

The award that "recognises a project, concept or technology which has the demonstrable potential to improve the efficiency of an aspect of ship operations along with evidence of real uptake and growth potential."

At last week’s Ship Efficiency conference the Award ceremony took place at the end of two days of conference and networking.

We stood alongside an illustrious line up of finalists from Wartsila, Cousteau and Eco-Marine Power. We were judged by shipping industry leaders from the International Chamber of Shipping, Lloyds List, Clarkson’s, ABS and ship owner representatives BIMCO.

It’s a real honour to have been recognised as the 'One to Watch' by such a distinguished panel of judges from such a short list of finalists.

The B9 Shipping project is about collaboration and the whole system approach we pioneer is only made possible by drawing on expert knowledge from across the spectrum. Its all about the team.

Large corporate businesses like Rolls-Royce, P&O and Tata Steel share technical knowledge and vision to help accelerate progress. Lloyds Register provides invaluable support on the most effective ways to rapidly enable new design solutions. Cutting edge innovation from offshore yacht racing is brought to the project by Humphreys Yacht Design long experienced in leading first-principle design solutions on many great international projects. We draw on academic work from the ‘Low Carbon Shipping Project’ and ‘Shipping in Changing Climates’ and our model testing was at the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit. We’ve had support from the Met Office to help quantify the value of wind at sea and the National Composite Centre advise us on lightweighting and novel materials. Tomorrow’s Company input on how to structure the collaboration to ensure it is resilient and future proof whilst PwC and Reed Smith help us pull together the financial, legal and commercial threads.

Redesigning old systems for an uncertain future presents very real challenges on many levels. Our alliance benefits from a collective vision and a common purpose. Once you put predictable renewable energy and a commitment to designing in the circular economy at the heart of a new system you begin to realise the long term benefits. This, in turn, makes it possible to find the way to address the challenges.

Watch this space.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Recently there’s been a good deal of noise about LNG becoming the fuel to bridge the gap to renewables. 

Several reports underline burgeoning demand for LNG in the maritime sector. It is seen as an attractive option to address upcoming sulphur emission control legislation. 

According to a study by the international association for natural gas, Cedigaz, demand for LNG bunkers is expected to more than triple by 2025. The study estimated demand of the gas within the marine sector to grow to 35.7 million tonnes per year (mpta) in the next 11 years, up from the current 10 mpta. By 2035, this demand is forecast to increase further to 77 mpta. Energy consultants Wood MacKenzie predict demand for LNG will grow to be one tenth of marine fuel by 2030. 

Accordingly infrastructure is being enthusiastically developed with organisations like Mitsui and Kawasaki investing heavily in LNG carriers. The recently formed Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) has identified a number of port areas for possible development of "common small scale LNG bunkering facilities".

However, before we all heave a sigh of relief and settle back on the ‘business-as-usual’ bus we need to look a little further ahead. The expectation of LNG being able to deliver cheap, clean fuel is predicated on the fracking process which is heavily opposed by large swathes of the population. It’s a risk to underestimate the stubborn determination of a middle class homeowner whose house will be devalued. The extraction process also causes methane leakage, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, which ultimately makes the emission burden of LNG more or less equal to that of HFO. We’d be wise to question the supply side. 

Dr Paul Gilbert from the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change advocates a bolder initiative. He’s suggesting shipping is taking a short-sighted approach to addressing sulphur emissions and should consider postponing current sulphur regulations. He recommends a coordinated suite of policies to tackle CO2 and SOx emissions in tandem ensuring more radical, step-change forms of propulsion are initiated from the outset to reduce the risk of infrastructure lock-in which, in turn, is more likely to cause lock-out of lower carbon technologies. Dr Gilbert argues the greater challenge for all sectors is climate change and the looming sulphur regulations do little to address that. He proposes an opportunity to address the co-benefits of reducing both sulphur and carbon.

Friday, 26 September 2014


The thing about physics is you can ‘believe’ in it or not, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t believe in gravity apples will still drop off the tree onto your head in the autumn. So it is with climate change. We can grip on to ‘the uncertainty of the science’ but the uncertainty is mostly about how bad the impacts will be. NASA reports there is a 97% consensus across the scientific community that climate warming trends are ‘very likely’ due to human activities. A joint statement from 18 US scientific associations reads: "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver."

This last weekend across the world people rallied in support of change in our approach to climate change. Joining A list Hollywood stars and global rock legends were Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They, and thousands of other ordinary people young and old, gathered to support global leaders meeting in New York at a UN hosted summit designed specifically to stimulate action to address climate change. 

B9 at the Peoples Climate March

Maersk’s CEO of ‘Shipping and other Services’ Morten Englestoft has been appointed to a high level UN committee whose aim is to reduce emissions, particulate matter (PM) and Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) at all global, national, local and sector levels to promote sustainable transport systems.

Reducing emissions across the entire transport sector is challenging. An interconnected system such as transport interfaces with different modes at different point because of variable stimuli. Moving one part of the system impacts another unintentionally. For example, in introducing Emission Control Areas and thereby increasing the cost of shipping there’s a real risk of driving freight onto roads which is inherently less efficient and more polluting.

Shifting whole systems is a significant challenge which is why consensus is critical. That consensus is building with the large players in the shipping world participating in driving change. How we can effect change amongst smaller operations is less easy to envisage but to avoid being swept along on a tide of other businesses agenda it’s probably worth paying attention to the various technological, operational and systems opportunities available to improve efficiency. Before it becomes mandatory.

Thursday, 18 September 2014


B9 Shipping is really pleased to have been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Ship Efficiency ‘One to Watch’ category.

The Ship Efficiency Awards 2014, hosted by Lloyd’s Register and organised by Fathom, recognises and celebrates the organisations and individuals within the maritime sector that excel in efficient operations, implement fresh thinking, offer proven efficiency benefits and technological innovation.

The Director of Fathom, Alison Jarabo, said there had been a large number of applications for awards and the distinguished panel of judges had had a hard time selecting finalists. Which makes us especially proud to have been recognised.

The B9 Shipping project addresses the operational challenges for small ships by creating A WHOLE SYSTEM SOLUTION that is commercially irresistible to cargo owners by being both cleaner and cheaper. The sailing hybrid ships aim to be 100% renewable powered and zero waste.

We are up against some pretty daunting opposition and simply to be alongside the likes of Wartsila, an EU funded sea traffic control system (which we applaud loudly as a great efficiency tool), Captain Cousteau’s Turbosail, and the very creative and determined Greg Atkinson’s great Eco-Marine Power project Aquarius is testimony in itself to the progress we’ve made in bringing the B9 Shipping project closer to fruition.

Of course, I want B9 to win, but if we don’t we’re proud to be in such good company.

The Awards Ceremony is Oct 2 with a drinks reception that begins at 3pm! If you don’t hear the result from me via twitter or other social media you can expect I’m taking advantage of the bar, for one reason or another.

May the best ship win!

Friday, 5 September 2014


The holidays are over, some of us went sailing. 

When we set sail we know where we want to go, we want to go there - wherever ‘there’ is - the finish line, the good restaurant - it depends on what kind of sailor you are. To get there we are constantly responding to external changes, seeking to achieve optimum performance by balancing multiple variables - adjusting sails to capture wind coming at us from shifting directions at different speeds, we’re trimming and balancing the vessel, avoiding sideways drift, always mindful of tides and currents, safety procedures and rules of the sea.

We are responsive, adaptive to shifting realities whilst remaining clearly goal focussed. We expect, and are prepared for, change and uncertainty.

In today’s volatile world this approach is a valuable guiding principle. We know we need to achieve cost certainty and low emission shipping. We need to get over ‘there’. We know we need to build ships that will be viable in 30 years or more time and yet we don’t know what will happen to trade patterns, to oil prices, labour and emission regulations.

We can be certain of one thing only - things will change.

We’ve become accustomed to deploying cheap fossil fuels to drive a predetermined linear course to the future but both price volatility and emission regulation mean that this era is drawing to a close. The future is no longer as certain - global conflict, climate change, population growth, changing and burgeoning consumer demand and scarce resources all leads to economic, and environmental, volatility.

As every good racing sailor knows stormy weather provides the best opportunity to steal the lead. In the commercial storm we face we must learn how to adapt and respond to keep ahead of the fleet.

The one thing every sailor can be certain about is: there will always be wind. Today, tomorrow, 30 years hence. It may blow from different directions, with different strengths and speeds but we can harness it. To make up any propulsion shortfall we can augment that power with other renewable fuels - maybe bio-diesel, maybe bio-gas, solar possibly. There are a whole host of other complementary technologies available to minimise fuel use - hull coatings, large area propellers, smart routing systems for instance.

Allowing the complexity and myriad of decisions we have to make to paralyse us means we never set sail. Expecting things to ‘get back to normal’, believing in a ‘recovery’ is a denial that should be left on the shore.

The question isn’t - should we act? It’s - how best can we respond to these inevitable changes? Our responses will dictate who crosses the line first - or who bags the table with the best view.