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Navigating the Future: Edwin Sieswerda on Atal Solutions’ Innovative Strategies for Maritime Sustainability

Atal Solutions' CEO Edwin Sieswerda discusses the company's innovative strategies for transforming the maritime industry
By Gresheen Libby
June 26, 2024

In a recent interview, Edwin Sieswerda, Founder and CEO of Atal Solutions, shared insights into the company's groundbreaking efforts to revolutionize the maritime industry. Atal Solutions provides realistic and impactful options for achieving significant fuel savings and emission reductions for existing vessels, prioritizing sustainability while still using traditional fuels.

During Posidonia 2024 in Athens, Sieswerda elaborated on Atal's latest $123.7M project with BAM Shipping and Damen Shipyards Group, highlighting the role of export finance and the importance of global partnerships. "This project is not just special; it is revolutionary," Sieswerda emphasized. "We aim to create a positive impact on both the maritime industry and the world by reducing emissions and fuel consumption, ultimately contributing to broader environmental and economic sustainability goals."

Sieswerda's vision extends beyond maritime advancements, with Atal Solutions continuously exploring new technologies to enhance various sectors, including healthcare, education, and infrastructure. Through integrated retrofits and innovative financing solutions, Atal Solutions is setting a new benchmark for sustainability and efficiency in the maritime industry, promising a transformative impact for years to come.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: Could you elaborate on the role of export finance in Atal Solutions’ recent $123.7M project with BAM Shipping? How does it empower Dutch exporters and contribute to the global maritime industry?

Edwin Sieswerda: As a Dutch-based company, and as a Dutch citizen myself, we aim to support and enable economic growth in a positive way. This project allows us to address the growing concern of climate change in an industry that is often regarded as damaging to our environment. By partnering with Damen, we aim to make a noticeable impact on not only the maritime industry but also the world. While this project relies on strong Dutch partners, our approach is global. Although export finance relies on global partnerships for success, we hope to increase transparency in this somewhat cloudy sector by continuing with these types of projects.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: How do you see Atal Solutions' efforts in reducing emissions and fuel consumption contributing to broader environmental and economic sustainability goals?

Edwin Sieswerda: All the projects we are involved in aim to support economic growth but also create positive impact. We work across a range of industries to do this, including Healthcare, Education, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Water and Waste Management, Shipping, and Green Energy. Regardless of the industry, our goal remains the same: to stimulate positive change and action. Some of these projects focus on environmental impact, while others aim to improve the socio-economic health of the locations we serve.

We are unique in our approach to delivering turnkey projects worldwide across these industries, providing 85-100% financing for such projects. We see ourselves as the ‘solution’ to make innovative foreign projects possible through our approach.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: In what ways can the advancements and technologies used in the maritime industry by Atal Solutions be adapted or inspire innovations in other sectors, such as healthcare or infrastructure?

Edwin Sieswerda: Advancements in technology allow us to make our projects a reality. It was not even possible to do what we are doing now five years ago. Not all technologies can be easily adapted and used in other sectors. For each sector in which we are active, we continuously look for new proven technologies that have a positive environmental or socio-economic impact and can be implemented quickly.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: Your recent project with BAM Shipping, Damen Shipyards Group, and other partners is valued at $123.7M. What were the main challenges and successes you encountered during the development and financing of this project?

Edwin Sieswerda: Although each piece of technology we use is individually proven, the technologies we’re using for this project have never been applied in one integrated retrofit. With this new approach, it’s often challenging to convince people and companies to sign onto a project of this scale, as nothing like it has been done before. However, we are fortunate that our partners are experts and leaders in their industry, and they understand the vision and impact this project will have.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: With the ongoing work on four vessels and the anticipation of many similar projects, how do you foresee the maritime industry evolving in the next five to ten years due to these advancements?

Edwin Sieswerda: We hope and expect that the marine industry will follow our example to reduce the negative environmental impact of the existing fleet. Once the vessels have been retrofitted, the market will realize how revolutionary the integrated approach is, not only in terms of environmental impact but also in terms of economic impact.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: How does Atal Solutions plan to scale its operations and continue driving the adoption of sustainable practices in the shipping industry? What are the next steps following the BAM Shipping project?

Edwin Sieswerda: Atal Solutions has partnered up with leading project managers, vessel managers, engineering companies, class societies, and suppliers of retrofit solutions to process new vessel retrofit projects. Even if we do not undertake the projects ourselves, we are happy to inspire others to follow what we believe is the best way forward to reduce the negative environmental impact of the existing fleet.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: The project aims for up to a 99% reduction in CO2, SO, and NO emissions while using traditional fuels. Can you discuss how Atal Solutions balances sustainability goals with maintaining the business viability and competitiveness of your projects?

Edwin Sieswerda: It is estimated that the integrated retrofit will result in a minimum 25% reduction in fuel consumption for the vessels. This is the first step in reducing both emissions and the fuel costs for the charterer of the vessels. This will ultimately lead to increased charter rates. Further, the efficiency of carbon capturing will depend on how effectively the ship manager operates the system. In any case, this will result in a significant reduction in emissions, helping to avoid upcoming fines related to vessel emissions. Finally, the shipowner can trade the carbon emission rights in connection with the emission reduction. The economic benefits of the integrated retrofit are expected to strongly exceed the costs of the integrated retrofit.

Gresheen (GG) Libby: What metrics or KPIs do you use to measure the success of your sustainability initiatives, and how do these metrics inform your future strategies and projects?

Edwin Sieswerda: For the shipping project, we will consistently measure the true fuel consumption and emissions before and after the retrofit. This way, we will determine the project’s success based on real data. During the process, we focus on practical solutions that can be quickly implemented without taking the vessels out of operation for more than 2-4 weeks. In addition, the retrofit solutions, in combination with the financing, should be economically attractive to convince shipowners to do the same. With the solution we designed over the past three years, we expect to reduce the negative impact of existing vessels to such an extent that their emissions can become environmentally sustainable, even though they continue to use fossil fuels.

In each project, we look at the maximum environmental and socio-economic impact we can achieve. We take a pragmatic approach, avoiding idealistic strategies that, while appealing, often fail to achieve the desired outcomes.

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