Japanese quartet plan new electric vessels

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 07 August 2019


Four Japanese companies; Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Mitsubishi Corporation have announced their agreement to create a strategic partnership to provide new infrastructure services in the marine shipping industry that focus on electrically powered vessels. Their newly established company, e5 Lab will work to develop and promote the greater use of these relatively clean modes of marine transport.

The partners have identified a number of challenges facing Japan's shipping industry which e5 Lab will seek to address by consolidating the technologies, know-how and networks of its four major shareholders.

The new company will develop a platform to provide a lineup of services that takes advantage of electrically powered vessels and other cutting-edge technologies. The aim is to leverage this platform to encourage sustainable growth and development within the marine shipping industry.

The challenges include:

  • Control of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and helping to combat the adverse impacts of climate change by converting vessels to electric propulsion.
  • Improving working environments and mitigate crew shortages by upgrading onboard communications systems.
  • Leveraging sophisticated sensor technologies to improve ship maintenance and management, thereby ensuring that aging vessels can be operated as safely as possible
  • Leveraging autonomous sailing technologies and big data to provide onshore support for crews and contribute to safe, reliable and efficient ship operations.
  • Offering 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.
  • Proposing standards on the swift and broader application of next-generation technologies.
  • Leveraging large-capacity, rechargeable batteries to provide emergency backup power and otherwise assist with the business continuity planning of local communities.

The first objective for e5 Lab will be to build the world's first zero-emission tanker by mid-2021. The tanker will be a coastal vessel powered by large-capacity batteries and will operate in Tokyo Bay. The company will also develop other kinds of electrically powered vessels to address the identified challenges.

e5 Lab will also actively promote the electrification of both coastal and ocean-going vessels, and pool the technologies, human resources and operational know-how needed to achieve the 50% GHG reduction target set by the IMO for 2025 as soon as possible. By delivering five kinds of e-value ("Electrification," "Environment," "Evolution," "Efficiency," and "Economics") e5 Lab will offer new innovation to society.

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