Skip to content

Emission monitoring drones deployed in Spain – marks first emission monitoring deployment in a global emission control area

Algeciras, Spain – Nordic Unmanned is assisting the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) in supporting The Spanish Dirección General de la Marina Mercante (General Directorate of Marine Merchant), which is a department of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Ministerio de Transportes, Movilidad y Agenda Urbana in the enforcement of sulphur oxide (SOx) and nitric oxide (NOx) emission regulations. This deployment marks the first emission monitoring campaign in a global emission control regulated area, which has a 0,5% sulphur limit, opposed to the 0,1% sulphur limit enforced in the SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Area). The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is offered under the contract of the European Maritime Safety Agency to The Spanish Dirección General de la Marina Mercante.

The operation in Spain began 12th of July 2021 in Algeciras, in the Bay of Algeciras/Gibraltar, which waters is used by a considerable amount of large and medium-sized ships, notably oil tanker and freighters. Estrecho de Gibraltar (Strait of Gibraltar) is one of the busiest maritime areas in the world and is around 15km wide in its narrowest part, separating Africa from Europe. The BVLOS operation conducted by Nordic Unmanned can last up to 7 hours and is performed daily, increasing the number of vessels possible to inspect by the local authorities.

This marks the first emission monitoring deployment by Nordic Unmanned in a global emission control area regulated (global) area, where the sulphur limit is 0,5%. Previous deployments have been in the SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Area), where the sulphur limit 0,1%. In addition, this marks the first BVLOS operation with the CAMCOPTER S-100 in Spain. The fully Nordic Unmanned staffed deployment provides the emission monitoring services for The Spanish Dirección General de la Marina Mercante.

It was a proud moment for us at Nordic Unmanned to see the RPAS takeoff for the first time in the Strait of Gibraltar. To provide authorities with cutting-edge maritime environmental technology is extremely rewarding, and to see the results of hard work and good cooperation gives us motivation for the future! We are proud to assist the work in reducing marine pollution by ensuring that vessels are complying with the emission regulation.

Knut Roar Wiig, CEO at Nordic Unmanned

The RPAS deployed registers potential violators of the emission regulations. The onboard sniffer samples a plume from the exhaust of the vessel and measures if the sulfur amount is higher than the allowed sulfur concentration of 0,5%. Since this is a regulated area, the allowed sulphur limit is 0.5%, and not 0.1%, as in the SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Area), where our previous deployments have been. The emission control services serve as an indication of possible non-compliance by a particular vessel.

The RPAS has been carrying out daily two flights since 12th of July with an average of ten inspections per day. According to the Spanish Authorities, current figures show that of 294 vessels controlled some 27 were found in possible breach of the limits of sulphur content in their fuel.

The consortium led by Nordic Unmanned, and partner NORCE Research Institute AS, ensures that vessels comply with the IMO 2020 sulphur and NOx regulations. The RPAS detects if the exhaust of the monitored vessels exceeds the limitation according to the regulations in place through IMO 2020. Should vessels utilize fuel with a sulphur concentration greater than 0,5%, they are likely to receive inspection at the next port of call.

The system currently deployed and in operation in Spain is the LN-0310-NA.

About Nordic Unmanned

Nordic Unmanned delivers comprehensive data solutions through industry leading expertise, to assist both public and private customers in the transition to unmanned technology. The focus is to support demanding clients by collecting time-critical data with the use of unmanned technology.

Founded in 2014, the company has offices in Sandnes, Oslo and Frankfurt, and has quickly become one of Europe’s leading providers of unmanned systems and services, with operations across the continent. The company is ISO 9001-2015 certified by DNV-GL for the operation, design and development, production, maintenance and sale, of unmanned systems and sensor technology. Nordic Unmanned is listed on Euronext Growth Oslo (NUMND).

For more information, visit: