Source: Asahi Tanker
Source: Asahi Tanker

Four Japanese companies have announced plans to partner to develop the world’s first zero-emissions shipping tanker by mid-2021 in an effort to develop and promote greater use of electrically powered marine transport.

The four companies – Asahi Tanker Co., Ltd., Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation – announced last week their plans to form e5 Lab, which will have as its first objective a plan to build the world’s first zero-emission tanker by mid-2021.

The electrically-powered, zero-emissions tanker will be a coastal vessel powered by large-capacity batteries and is set to operate in Tokyo Bay.

On a larger scale, e5 Lab will seek to address a number of challenges facing Japan’s shipping industry. The four companies will utilise their combined technologies, “know-how”, and networks to develop a platform to provide a line-up of services that takes advantage of electrically powered vessels.

The aim of the company is therefore to leverage the resulting platform to encourage sustainable growth and development within the marine shipping industry.

The seven challenges e5 has highlighted are:

  1. Control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help to combat the adverse impacts of climate change by converting vessels to electric propulsion.
  2. Improve working environments and mitigate crew shortages by upgrading onboard communications systems.
  3. Leverage sophisticated sensor technologies to improve ship maintenance and management, thereby ensuring that aging vessels can be operated as safely as possible
  4. Leverage autonomous sailing technologies and big data to provide onshore support for crews and contribute to safe, reliable and efficient ship operations.
  5. Offer an electric-vessel platform to all stakeholders in the marine shipping industry (including shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, ship owners and operators, and cargo owners), standardize vessels and otherwise help to develop a sustainable growth model within the industry.
  6. Propose standards on the swift and broader application of next-generation technologies.
  7. Leverage large-capacity, rechargeable batteries to provide emergency backup power and otherwise assist with the business continuity planning of local communities.

The company will start life with¥50 million (AU$702,550) in capital and will be jointly owned by all four companies (Asahi and Exeno will both hold 30% stakes, while Mitsui and Mitsubishi will both hold 20% stakes).

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