Energy efficiency in ship operations - Exploring voyage decisions and decision-makers

René Taudal Poulsen*, Martin Viktorelius, Hanna Varvne, Hanna Barbara Rasmussen, Hannes von Knorring

*Corresponding author for this work

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To mitigate climate change due to international shipping, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires shipowners and ship technical managers to improve the energy efficiency of ships’ operations. This paper studies how voyage planning and execution decisions affect energy efficiency and distinguishes between the commercial and nautical components of energy efficiency. Commercial decisions for voyage planning depend on dynamic market conditions and matter more for energy efficiency than nautical decisions do for voyage execution. The paper identifies the people involved in decision-making processes and advances the energy-efficiency literature by revealing the highly networked nature of agency for energy efficiency. The IMO's current energy efficiency regulations fail to distinguish between the commercial and nautical aspects of energy efficiency, which limits the ability to mitigate climate change through regulatory measures. Policymakers should expand their regulatory focus beyond shipowners and technical managers to cargo owners to improve energy efficiency and reduce maritime transport emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103120
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Climate change mitigation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy efficiency operational indicator
  • Speed optimization
  • Voyage planning and execution


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