AI is helping Australia to prevent bushfires, Singapore to mitigate extreme rainfall events, and the United States to mitigate the impact of hurricanes, wrote GovInsider. Likewise, space tech is helping countries improve climate transparency and accountability, another GovInsider article wrote.

Countries around the world are adding tech into their arsenal of weapons against climate change, and Singapore is no exception. The island state today is greening its coastlines with tech like cutting-edge electric vessels, AI and digital twins – led by the Coastal Sustainability Alliance (CSA).

Launched in March 2022, the CSA was formed with the aim of decarbonising and optimising the efficiency of Singapore’s maritime industry. Members of the newly-minted group to discuss how they use tech to meet these goals.

The fleet of the future: electric vessels

Electric vessels are one avenue the CSA is exploring to decarbonise Singapore’s shorelines. To do so, the Alliance is going to build 10 PXO designed vessels by 2025. PXO vessels are ships that will adopt innovative technologies such as wireless charging and run on alternative fuels.

Wireless chargers for these vessels will be located both onshore and at sea, saving them from unnecessary trips back to shore, which in turn saves energy.

These chargers allow vessels to charge safely and efficiently while still being protected against the wet and harsh marine environment, shares Prof Alfred Huan, Assistant Chief Executive of the Science and Engineering Research Council, A*STAR.

Furthermore, expired construction vessels will be upcycled to serve as a “multi-purpose coastal logistics platform”. These platforms will house some of these wireless chargers alongside other equipment like sea and aerial drones.

Electric boats are only a “short term energy transition solution”, highlights Tan Thai Yong, CEO of PaxOcean and Chairperson of the CSA Council. Moving forward, the CSA will explore hydrogen fuel cells, ammonia, and other renewable energy technologies as the PXO vessels’ main source of energy in time to come, he adds.

In the future, innovations in renewable wind, tidal, and solar energy will also be tested as alternative fuels to power these vessels, with the end goal of net-zero emissions in mind.

“We are also looking at improving battery compositions that can provide better energy and power without compromising on safety. This will have implications on a wide range of applications, including for electric vehicles and ships,” shares Huan.

Jurong Port is also looking at renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. It is currently home to the largest port-based solar energy system in the world, putting “Singapore in the best position to explore a heightened capacity for renewable energy for the maritime industry,” says Jurong Port’s Tan.

Non-traditional forms of solar panel installation might well be on their way, such as floating solar farms and thin-film solar cells. These ensure that Singapore remains at the frontiers of renewable energy innovation.

Creating greener ports with AI

Besides decarbonising through electric vessels, the CSA is looking to improve coordination at its ports with AI.

Singapore is a key stopping point for ships to change their parts. Two of Jurong Port’s smaller terminals, for example, function as the “single point of convergence” for ships to get provisions and supplies, says Tan Wee Meng, Chief Technical Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer of Jurong Port.

But the industry is fragmented and lacks coordination, Tan shares. Jurong Port is home to hundreds of lighter boats, which deliver supplies to waiting ships. With more than 300 lighter boats supplied by about 60 companies, many of them make multiple trips to and from the port, when the same errands can be achieved with just one boat.

AI may provide a solution.

Jurong Port is working with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s digitalPORT@SG programme to digitalise ship arrival and departure. The second phase of this programme will use AI to recommend the best places where ships can dock, wrote GovInsider.

This can reduce the amount of time that ships spend at the port, reducing unnecessary carbon emissions when ships are idle, the article added.

Other green initiatives are also in the works. For example, AI and big data will combine with satellite imagery to help ships navigate. This will help ships to schedule and plan the best route in and out of Singapore’s waters to minimise the time they spend within Singapore’s ports, says Huan.

Digital twinning to optimise traffic flows 

The CSA is working to create a digital twin of Singapore’s port waters to improve marine traffic.This twin will simulate the movement of vessels in Singapore’s waters, similar to how transport authorities digitally simulate and test out traffic flow scenarios, explains Tan.

This “virtual operating environment” is able to model how different types of ships entering Singapore’s shores move and work, explains Prof Chan Eng Soon, CEO of the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine (TCOMS) – another member of the CSA.

With digital twins, Singapore can even test how new vessels will behave in Singapore’s waters. This will help the country to improve the design and performance of new vessels and maximise energy efficiency before they enter the ports.

With cutting-edge tech like electric vessels, AI, and digital twins on the way, Singapore will go beyond just being a vital maritime trading hub. Instead, it is on its way to also becoming one of the greenest maritime ports in time to come.