DNV GL: Hybrid Cyber-Ships Fast Approaching

  • Business & Finance

Hybrid propulsion systems and connected ship solutions are emerging technologies that are gaining ground faster than expected, said Tor E. Svensen, CEO DNV GL – Maritime, while commenting on the update to DNV GL’s ”Shipping 2020” report which was published in 2012.

The rise of hybrid vessels was unanticipated in the original ”Shipping 2020” report, Svensen said at the opening day of Nor-Shipping in Oslo. But the substantial drop in battery prices and improved energy storage capacity means that hybrid systems are now becoming a real option for the shipping industry. They are best suited for vessels with large variations in power demand, coastal trades and operations within emission control areas.

Global high-speed internet coverage, increased computing power and Big Data solutions turn the vision of the connected ship into reality. Svensen expects that the spread of these technologies will enable the shipping industry to intensify its focus on enhancing operational efficiency.

”By bringing together and analysing both data from on-board monitoring systems and from external sources, a comprehensive insight is gained of voyage, engine and hull performance,” he said. ”Voyage management based on shipboard sensors and AIS data, for example, can help to determine the optimal speed in all conditions and thereby reduce fuel bills.”

While enhanced safety through sensors and automation on board is another advantage of connected ships, the robustness and reliability of software dependent systems has to be assured. Applying Integrated Software Dependent Systems (ISDS) standards and verifying reliability through Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing is therefore growing in importance.

”Originally used for mobile offshore drilling units, we expect that ISDS standards and HIL testing will play a greater role for shipping in the near future – at first in some of the offshore vessel segments as well as for large passenger ships,” Svensen said.

Alongside these opportunities new threats are present: ”As ships become more connected, they could fall victim to cyber attacks,” he warned. To mitigate risks, Svensen recommended the development of guidelines and standards together with cybersecurity audits to improve systems protection.

LNG as a ship fuel was one of the standouts from the last report, but due to continuing high investment costs and slower development of infrastructure the prediction of up to 1,000 LNG-fuelled vessels by 2020 will most likely not be met. However, as more bunkering options come in place, growth could accelerate, according to the updated report.

Scrubbers, on the other hand, were seen as a regulatory compliance option that would not be a significant option until after 2020 and the introduction of tighter global restrictions on sulphur. Today, the scrubber market is developing faster than expected, with more than 200 confirmed projects.

”While operational efficiency and emissions reductions are the main motivators behind these developments, the update shows that the future fuel mix will be much more diverse,” Svensen said.

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