Japan unveils electric tanker design

Malcolm Latarche

31 January 2019

A new concept design for a pure electric coastal oil tanker has been announced by ship operator Asahi Tanker Co. Ltd, together with its partner Exeno-Yamamizu Corporation Tokyo. In anticipation of future adaptations to regulatory conformity ClassNK has been appointed to give technical advice on ship design and electric propulsion.


The new vessel design and related project infrastructure development will be known as “e5” which captures the five core elements of;

  • Electrification – The ships core energy source will be electricity, achieved by use of lithium ion batteries.
  • Environment – Emission controls such as CO2, NOx, SOx together with minimising noise and vibration along with improvements in vessel operation environmental controls at sea and in port.
  • Economics – Achieving economic efficiency through installation of IoT and digital tools coupled with improved propulsion performance from using electricity.
  • Efficiency – Simple hull construction and installation of automated equipment can reduce work load for the crew.
  • Evolution – Digitalisation and technological advancement leading to the most advanced design concept for the future of domestic shipping.

The e5 design is for a vessel of 60m length 10m beam and a cargo capacity of around 1,300m3. The hull design has been developed by Netherlands-based Groot Ship Design. The battery system would power twin 350kW azimuthing thrusters for propulsion and manoeuvrability and a 130kW bow thruster to aid manoeuvring.

Commercial model development of the e5 design is underway for all bunker supply vessels trading in Tokyo Bay. The target is for the first vessel to launched in Q4 2020. The project is also planning for e5 coastal vessels which would require longer cruising range.

The partners in the project say the concept creates solutions to issues such as shortage of crews, vessel demand balance and environmental regulation thus contributing to the sustainability of the domestic shipping industry. The project is confident that by utilising the e5 concept of ocean transport that a stable energy supply will be achieved enriching people’s lives and adding value to each client.