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Spot Ship - reducing ballast days to cut CO2 emissions

Photo: Spot Ship Spot Ship Team.jpg
The world’s first green submarine may have attracted the most attention among winners of the UK’s green maritime competition, but in the list of 55 companies there was also start-up software platform Spot Ship promising significant CO2 reductions simply by reducing the number of ballast days for vessels chartered.

As one of the winners in the GBP23m national UK competition Spot Ship will get funding for a feasibility study for an emissions calculator optimising fleets and ships in terms of total emissions, including from a chartering perspective hiring the vessel with the least number of ballast days required.

Intrigued as to how this would work in practice Seatrade Maritime News caught up with Spot Ship CEO Henry Waterfield, and CFO James Kellett, who are also the founders of the company.

Of the 55 winners in the competition Spot Ship believe they are the only software company and aim to match cargoes and ships in a way that reduces the environmental impact of the charter.

Kellett explains: “At the moment we encourage shipbrokers to rank the results based on ballast days because we want to deliver the most environmentally friendly outcome. Most of the time it is also the most economic outcome.

“We like this kind of dual lens that while using us we are going to reduce CO2 while also not costing anyone any money, whereas everyone who seems to be reducing CO2 the solution is vastly expensive, while we say, 'Just don't act like a muppet'.

“Our goal is to actually save 90 million tonnes of CO2 annually, so it's about 20% of the UK's emissions by looking at roughly 10 percentage point reduction in global ballast days.”

Spot Ship’s customers are ship brokers and they stress that their service is not looking to disintermediate brokers, but instead automate time consuming processes, particularly for the smaller-mid-sized players that lack inhouse technology platforms.

Waterfield explains that using existing data, “We can we highlight all of the data available in the spot market it's to make the ability for people to match spot cargoes, much more easily and efficiently.”

So rather than compiling and comparing multiple data sources, and from potentially out of date position lists, the information is available at a click of a button. This Waterfield says enable you to calcuate: “This is the dollar value per tonne of cargo moved and therefore you've got this one [ship] which is slightly more expensive, but better environmentally, while this is the cheapest, but the least environmentally friendly.”

The aim is to offer a demonstration of the model going live with the feasibility study for the UK government in February next year.

So, what does being one of the winners of the UK government competition mean for Spot Ship? Kellett highlights two points – that it reaffirms their core values of doing something that has an environmental impact value and not just a commercial one, and to also the prioritise development of the feature.

He adds: “I think it also makes our employees feel really good about what they're doing. I mean, I'd say we've got an incredibly committed bunch but being told by the government you are the only software company in the UK. that is being backed to clean up the oceans feels pretty good.”

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