Making the Decarb Change House HOME™

~ how the maritime industry can harness data and digital to find its sustainable future ~



Imagine all the world’s vessel owners in one house – The Climate Change House (see below). Which room would be the most crowded? Is anyone truly ‘contented’ or identifying with ‘renewal’? Who’d do the dishes? If decarbonisation feels distant, irrelevant or just a small cloud on the horizon then a denial room is for you. Others might feel ‘confused’ – baffled and bewildered by the myriad of technological options and regulatory rigmarole. Perhaps the majority would find themselves here. In the renewal room once you’re embracing new opportunities and feeling energised and invigorated by successful change. It’s only from here that you can enter the preferred accommodation – the contentment room (some with sun deck!).

Our working hypothesis is that more people are downstairs than up – in a state of denial or confusion. Of these, far too many are in the dungeon of denial and still more have fallen through the trapdoor in the confusion room to the paralysis pit.

This article focuses on The Confusion Room and its occupants. Why are they there? What can they do?

Why are they there?

Change is afoot. Powerful evidence has chivvied people out of denial: Scientific evidence of global warming; Lived experience of freaky weather; Regulators clamping down on the worst polluting vessels; Customer pressure for clean tonnage; Financial pressure for vessel efficiency.

All well and good beyond denial people find confusion. The course is not clear. What should be done with the existing fleet? Which of the myriad Energy Saving Devices (ESDs) on the market make sense? Should we be planning for future fuels or making the best of what we have via carbon capture?

What can they do?

Perhaps the first thing to do is to recognise it doesn’t have to be this way forever. There is the prospect of renewal – reinvigorating and energising your business by making effective changes and discovering new opportunities. If you don’t quite buy into that ‘land of milk and honey’ type vision then there’s a more pragmatic version. This looks first for efficiencies and positive financial payback. Green benefits come as a welcome biproduct. Operational Modelling is an emerging field of study for the maritime industry –. Advances in processing power, AI and big data make this possible. Many things are available now.

Independent ESD Techonomic evaluation – the complex modelling of ESD impact and payback

ESDs come in various shapes, sizes and guises all promising answers to your decarbonisation headaches. Consider fancy new antifouling paint or perhaps a little black box on the bridge which advises on your ship’s loading condition. Fit rotor sails or invest in Air Lubrication Systems (ALS). The problem for the multiplicity of solutions is the universe of diverse challenges presented by every ship and operation. Inevitably, just as one size seldom fits all, not all systems work for all ships, routes and operations.

One further complication is vested interest. The OEMs promoting and selling ESDs are also the sources of the performance data by which these devices can be assessed. There’s no suggestion of shenanigans but this does add to the general uncertainty. There is therefore a need to consider the ship and its operation in detail before selecting which ESD (or combination) will work for you.

The good news is that you can do so more rigorously than ever by involving independent consultancies. Houlder, for example offers hydrodynamic capabilities and expertise, which has been built through years of physical model testing, sea trials, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This helps deduce which ESD(s) is for your vessel, route and operation, and what savings it could offer.

Hullforms can be recreated from 2D drawings, removing the need for expensive 3D scanning. The latest RANS CFD can be used to assess your vessel’s current performance in great detail. Finally, the change in performance achieved thanks to selected ESDs will be determined. This data can then be fed into operational modelling environments that take into account details of the vessel’s route and operation (such as Houlder’s HOME™) allowing for fuel savings, CII and EEXI across an operation to be quantified.

Operational efficiency through AI

The Houlder Optimisation & Modelling Environment (HOME™) is revolutionising the way we think about ship operations. Using the latest digital twin technology, HOME™ creates a virtual world where ships’ performances can be tested under a variety of scenarios. This isn’t just about looking at how ships do what they do; it’s about making them do it better. Whether it’s tweaking the operations of existing vessels, designing brand new ones, or exploring ways to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, HOME is on it.

What sets HOME™ apart is its flexibility. Depending on what clients need, HOME™ can dial the detail up or down. For those at the drawing-board stage, basic-fidelity simulations offer a quick peek at what’s possible. For more in-depth analysis, like weighing up different modifications or getting into the nitty-gritty of business planning, mid-fidelity and high-fidelity simulations provide richer, more detailed insights through Houlder’s CFD and hydrodynamic capabilities and expertise.

When real-world data from ships is available, it can be fed into the system to make the modelling even more accurate. This means that over time, HOME™ gets even better at predicting how changes will pan out in the real world, helping ship operators and designers make informed decisions that lead to more efficient, sustainable operations.


Living in the Change House can be an uncomfortable prospect. Everyone downstairs is at risk and will live by their wits. Independent engineers, naval architects and data scientists can work with the industry to simulate reality and stimulate renewal.

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