Modeling the future of North Sea shipping
“The route topology model is a means and tool for visualizing traffic in a given area,” explains Williams. “It enables us to show what services are available along a particular route.”
The benefits will be seen both shoreside and on the bridge. Fleet managers can utilize the sea space more effectively by identifying the most efficient way to travel through the region, while mariners can visualize the best routes in any given situation.
A route topology model also predicts where bottlenecks within an area may occur, through simulating and analyzing what happens to traffic under specific conditions.
In the North Sea, this analysis is essential to planning how the ocean space should be used, for example by wind farms and offshore platforms.
But how open can the waters of the North Sea remain in the future? Williams suggests that shipping might take a significant hit.
With green energy being high on the agendas of European decision makers, the need not only to become more energy efficient but also to recognize, accept and account for the upcoming change in seascape is a necessity. Alwyn Williams underlines the need to recognize the consequences of green energy policies – particularly regarding offshore wind farms – for the shipping industry, and sees the situation where ships will be moved into tighter areas as inevitable.
The AccSEAS project identifies key areas of shipping congestion and limitations to port access and defines solutions by prototyping and demonstrating success in an e-navigation test-bed at the North Sea regional level. It does so under the guidance and regulatory framework of the EU, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). Thus it aims to help authorities make wiser decisions going forward as well as to support the use of e-Navigation as a common framework that enhances maritime decision making processes.