The main goal of the TOPVOYS project is to develop, test, implement and provide methods and tools for reliable voyage optimization capitalizing on new advances in near real time satellite-based observations of wind, waves and surface current. The cross-cutting skills and transnational partnership ensured by the consortium allow for a comprehensive global view and understanding of the major challenges and deficiencies with respect to ship routing. As such, TOPVOYS aims to advance: (i) searching, downloading, processing and analyzing of near real time satellite data for surface current, sea surface temperature, waves and wave-current interaction; (ii) operational use of sensor synergy and visualization platform; (iii) contribution to automated tools and machine-learning system for routing planning and optimization; (iv) voyage undertakings and ship performance monitoring; and (v) post-voyage analyses and assessment.
The involvement of shipping companies in the consortium (CMA-CMG, France and Grieg Star; Norway) ensures clear hands on user requirements as well as ability to efficiently test, assess and refine the quality of the tools. The voyage optimization will have valuable impact on fuel savings and reduction in CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. These are highly compliant with the IMO regulations and the new CO2 reporting requirement for ships entering/leaving EU ports. Fuel savings and emission reductions will, moreover, clearly have a positive impact on the green environment and blue economy and altogether contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular to #7: Affordable and Clean Energy; #12: Responsible Consumption and Production; #13: Climate Action; and #14 Life Below Water.
By contributing to digitalisation of marine information services (as developed under the UN maritime organisation for ocean transportation - IMO) the TOPVOYS project are also supporting the development of advancement in ship traffic flow, transportation and risk reduction. As such it can be expected to advance the abilities to provide more accurate estimate of time of arrivals (ETA) named Just-In-Time (JIT) port calls. With such JIT port calls, arrival times and berth space can be optimally managed. This means capacity, equipment, and staffing can be more accurately estimated and planned. A recent report to the Norwegian Coastal Directorate, DNV-GL estimates that the annual gain from maritime digitalisation can be up to 300 million NOK for maritime ship traffic in Norwegian waters.
Building on the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service (CMEMS) and recent new capacities in satellite observations as demonstrated in the ESA funded GlobCurrent project, the overall goal of the TOPVOYS (Tools for Optimizing Performance of VOYages at Sea) project proposal submitted to ERA-NET Cofund under the MarTERA call is to advance and implement analyses tools and decision support system for voyage optimization. This is highly important for the maritime waterborne transport sector including safety and security and will strengthen transnational research and development in maritime and marine technologies in support to Blue Economy and Blue Growth. Optimum ship routing means the “best route” for a ship based on the marine weather forecasts including wind, wave and surface current conditions, together with ship characteristics, cargo requirements and navigational performance including use of Automatic Information System (AIS). The advanced analyses tools and decision support system will regularly be tested and demonstrated in delayed mode post voyage analyses and real time operations with lead involvement of the lead marine service company together with the two participating shipping companies. In order to identify the most reliable forecast product in each area during a given time window, and to assign to each prediction a confidence index, the forecast and near real time observations will be integrated into a single decision support system. The goal is not to avoid all adverse weather, waves and current conditions but to find the best reliable balance to minimize time of transit and hence fuel consumption and reduce emissions without placing the vessel at risk to damage or crew injury.