China Completes Trials for Largest Electric River Cruise Ship

China's electric cruise ship
Three Gorges 1 is reported to be the world's largest electric cruise ship (SASAC)

Published Jan 20, 2022 5:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

China has completed the construction and testing of a new river cruise vessel that is being promoted as the world’s largest pure electric cruise ship. Known as the Three Gorges 1, the fully electric vessel operates on battery power and will be used for cruises along the Yangtze River in central China.

The ship is powered by a 7500 KWH marine power battery from CATL, which according to the company is equivalent to the total battery capacity of more than 100 electric vehicles. Once in service, it will have the capacity to operate more than 60 miles on one charge. They are saying the advancements with the battery pack system will significantly extend the battery life and performance. The Three Gorges 1 will also introduce a high-voltage charging and low-voltage power supply scheme, which they report efficiently solves the charging problem of high-power ports.

The project to develop the ship began in 2018 with Yangtze Power establishing a ship electrification working group to study the core technologies required for large-scale pure electric ship power and the control systems. Among the technical challenges they reportedly worked on battery safety, electromagnetic compatibility, and the development of a DC networking system and the battery systems. In 2019, Yangtze Power and Yichang Jiaoyun Group signed an agreement to jointly build electric boats.

The Three Gorges 1 is 328 feet long with a 53-foot beam. The vessel has accommodations for 1,300 passengers including cabins and a range of lounges and food halls. It will operate in the cruise market on the Yangtze in the region around the dam. 

The ship was launched in the summer of 2021 and recently completed its trials voyages before arriving in its homeport of Yichang. They are currently completing the commissioning of the high and low voltage charging equipment and additional tests including inclination and tests underway are planned in the coming weeks.

The final commission of the vessel also includes the installation of the soft furnishings and hotel equipment. The plan calls for starting commercial trips in April 2022.

The electrical power for the vessel will come from the hydropower generated by the Three Gorges Dam. The power company reportedly has more than 10 million kilowatts of power generation capacity installed, with hydropower accounting for nearly 70 percent of the generating capacity.

In the next phase of the development of the marine electric vessel market, Chinese officials said they are exploring the development of an integrated network of electric charging points along the river system. They look to develop a network connecting the river to the sea.