Green Sea Guard: supporting energy transition

Green Sea Guard: supporting energy transition

Green Sea Guard are providing regulators with the possibility of automation for the first time, solving the problem of monitoring compliance in the shipping industry

Green Sea Guard provides a service to ship owners, operators and regulatory bodies in order to help them move towards energy transition: the move towards use of renewable and sustainable energy everywhere on our planet. The company monitors emissions from ships which helps shipowners to control emissions and improve the operating efficiency of their engines, which is a first step towards understanding energy use and pollution control.

Today, many cities control the emissions that lorries, buses and other vehicles may produce, and therefore the sight of clouds of acrid smoke billowing from a rogue exhaust is comfortably rare today. When they read about city smog these days, people tend to assume that this is a side-effect of overcrowding and congestion, and that not a great deal can be done about it, short of abandoning our vehicles in favour of cycling and walking. However, many people will be shocked to hear that shipping, responsible for 90% of the visible goods transported worldwide, has never been as strictly controlled as most land-based transport.

Green Sea Guard has solved the problem of monitoring compliance in the shipping industry by providing regulators with the possibility of automation for the first time. Although more than 75 countries have signed international agreements to limit ship emissions, detection and policing are in their infancy in many countries, so little progress has been made despite these international accords. Regulators in the EU, with their own set of regulations, are working towards a target of inspecting 10% of active vessels, but lack the resources to reach that level, and are often under pressure to save costs rather than extend their operations. Green Sea Guard allows regulators to view real time emissions from participating vessels online, rather than physically boarding vessels, so that inspections can be targeted more effectively on vessels that are less likely to be compliant. This step forward has the potential to transform the industry.

There are currently more than 350,000 larger ships operating in international and coastal waters and major inland waterways which are already covered by some type of national or international regulations, and this number is growing as emissions control areas are expanded and cities impose lower limits. The growth in world trade over the last few decades, for example, has resulted in a large increase in the numbers of ships in use, while emission reduction technology has not kept up with the pace of the industry. It is true to say that ship emissions are increasing while emissions from many other classes of vehicle are being reduced.

Ships in many countries are permitted to emit some toxic gasses which are controlled on land, due to the perceived difficulty of tracking and policing emissions. Inland waterways and their ports are even more of an issue as ships are in closer contact with the indigenous populations living along the shores of the waterway. These people will be the most at risk from the pollutants produced by ships. Green Sea Guard can offer a solution to this challenge: the base product, the G100, monitors up to nine separate toxic and greenhouse gases at once.

Particulates emissions are increasingly in the news. The large engines used in ocean-going vessels each produce large quantities of invisible particulates that can be life threatening to not only humans but are known to be affecting the phytoplankton in the deeper reaches of our oceans and therefore impact our food chain. Recent scientific research increasingly suggests that the smaller particulates, below the regulated levels, are in fact more dangerous to humans than those already covered by legislation and controls.
The urgency of solving the problems around combustion of hydrocarbons, which have only arisen in the past 150 years, cannot be understated. Mankind must find solutions before these problems spiral out of control.

Encouraging monitoring

Green Sea Guard is dedicated to encouraging the spread of compliance throughout the global shipping industry by providing positive business cases for shipowners to cut back on emissions. Measurement is the first stage in this process. Once a shipowner understands the emissions of different engines, he can prioritise repairs by the identified financial gain he will make from each repair. Monitoring emissions allows faults to be tracked, and maintenance to be scheduled. Parts can be sourced ahead of port visits if the issue is identified early and expensive down time in port or elsewhere caused by emergency repairs can be reduced. The service interval can be extended in many cases by means of predictive maintenance, again resulting in economies for the shipowner. More serious faults can sometimes be diagnosed by correlating different gasses and the temperature of the exhaust.

Ship fuel tank inspections by regulators can take a great deal of time, and the cost is generally borne by the shipowner. Thus, providing information ahead of time to regulators can result in considerable savings and competitive advantage for shipowners using on board remote monitoring.

Pollutants are not merely a nuisance to the shipowner and to crews: every litre of toxic gas produced consumes energy from the fuel, and therefore increases the cost of travelling from one port to another. Often the cause of the extra gasses generated is a simple failure that can be rectified rapidly at little cost, such as the blocking of air filters, and near-immediate savings can be realised. Green Sea Guard allows the shipowner to focus on these possible savings and act earlier than would be the case with conventional diagnostics in port. Ship operators traditionally work on small margins, so the difference to operating profit of a day saved in port can be tangible, while also saving demurrage costs.
Fuel efficiency is a major concern to all shipowners. Monitoring the evenness of the combustion achieved is important in managing fuel economy, but there are also behavioural aspects involved. Shipowners can compare the fuel economy of different navigation styles using Green Sea Guard equipment.

  • Green Sea Guard’s units are compact pieces of equipment that can be plumbed directly into the engine exhaust in the engine room in only a few minutes – in most cases.
    The type of equipment is customised to some extent by the needs of the shipowner, manager and their engineers. In most cases the equipment:
    Monitors the exhaust flow rate.
    Samples the exhaust at set time intervals ranging from seconds to minutes.
    Records temperature of the exhaust at the point of sampling.
  • Monitors the exhaust flow rate.
  • Samples the exhaust at set time intervals ranging from seconds to minutes.
    Records temperature of the exhaust at the point of sampling.

It also stores the results locally, undertakes some basic analysis on board ship and transmits the records to our secure server on land, using the cheapest telecommunications method available at any time. This makes information available to users authorised by the shipowner – regulators, clients or colleagues, either as a customised data feed or formal reports.

The metal housings are heat, water and salt resistant and can cope with a wide range of engine room and operating temperatures. They are designed with a number of mechanisms to ensure that they are tamper-evident, so that the shipowner can rely on the integrity and completeness of the data feeds. Power is sourced from the ship, but back-up batteries are also in place in case of disconnection.

The system only requires small tubes to be welded into the ship’s exhaust, and the probes are attached to these tubes, with sampled exhaust being returned at another outlet. The tubes are of course capped when not in use. Welding is always undertaken by the ship’s own staff.As far as Green Sea Guard is aware, this product and service set are a unique solution to what is becoming a pressing issue.

Green Sea Guard databases now include a variety of algorithms that convert known patterns of emissions into suggested engine fault diagnoses. The knowledge the company has amassed will help all regulatory bodies to determine their policy on levels of emissions and particulates that can safely be tolerated by both the shipping industry and the general population in turn.

Direct benefits – fuel saving and predictive maintenance

Green Sea Guard currently operates in both international coastal waters and inland waterways and has generated a number of positive business cases for installation of the units at the current unit price points from client data. The company stands ready to tackle a range of efficiency problems associated with large engines being used in the offshore industry and the rail industry which are using the same techniques.

At the time of going to press, Green Sea Guard was in the late stages of joining the Green Award scheme, which offers port fee discounts in a number of different countries to vessels using particular types of equipment judged to have a positive impact on the environment: this membership will therefore boost the scale of the financial business case for most Green Sea Guard clients.

All operators of diesel engines benefit from not only being able to demonstrate conformity to emission legislation but also:

  • The resulting fuel savings;
  • Smarter planning of maintenance of engines, detecting that there is something wrong with the engine before is breaks down;
  • Better prioritisation by the fleet manager of renovation and replacement resources between different engines or entire vessels;
  • On having current data on a ship’s performance to be able to demonstrate to environmentally conscious customers and wish to pass this information along the supply chain.

All of these advantages have already been proven during our initial trials and in more recent full operations. This facility is particularly useful for ships operating in coastal waters marking several calls in several ports per trip and has been used in a number of cases for making detailed comparisons between fuels. Green Sea Guard equipment allows, for the first time, real measurements to be taken on board ships on active duties, by contrast to traditional emissions calculations which have hitherto generally been based on laboratory trials at constant speed and with significant propeller depth.

The UK Government has recently issued notice that it intends to make port operators in the UK legally responsible for controlling the emissions of ships entering their ports and those operating within their areas. Ships with Green Sea Guard equipment installed will of course be able to provide all the necessary information on demand, and ports monitoring emissions remotely can start to save operating costs on routine inspections
as well.Green Sea Guard services are already being contracted to universities undertaking studies in the effects of particulates in the sea and gasses in the atmosphere.


Green Sea Guard is dedicated to ensuring that shipowners have an easy route towards becoming compliant with regulation. The challenges faced by our planet in controlling greenhouse gases are immense and far-reaching and require significant behavioural changes. If consumers are to continue current patterns of consumption, drastic action is required to conserve the planet’s complex marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Green Sea Guard is equal to this challenge and continues to work towards greater understanding of the contribution of individual ships to the pollution of the atmosphere, rivers and oceans by vessel emissions. This understanding is the only way in which effective policy can be framed and effective compliance ensured on the way towards the transition to renewable energy regimes that the planet requires.

About the Company

Green Sea Guard Limited is currently based in the UK, with subsidiaries active in the Netherlands and Portugal. The management team are drawn from a variety of disciplines, and many are indeed unpaid volunteers, working towards a greener planet for future generations. The company relies on its close links with universities, government departments and commercial entities. Sales are already being made across the EU, and enquiries are being received from farther afield. The company is already being encouraged to respond to demand in North America, Latin America, South Asia and Australasia.

Green Sea Guard has been recognised by a number of national and international industry bodies since its inception. In 2017 the company competed for a place on the Port of Rotterdam’s PortXL programme and won one of ten coveted places as well as receiving an equity injection from a subsidiary of the port itself. Recent accolades include a Rushlight award in 2017/18, second prize in the Oxford Innovation 30th Anniversary competition and a Welsh Enterprise Board award.

More information is available at;;;

Andrew Burgess
Green Sea Guard
+44 (0)1865 521487


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here