Japanese Consortium Develops All-Electric Product Tanker

The proposed electric coastal tanker alongside a cruise ship (e5)

Published Aug 6, 2019 6:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

Three Japanese shipping companies are partnering with Mitsubishi to develop a zero-emissions, battery-powered petroleum product tanker for operations in Tokyo Bay. 

The consortium - Asahi Tanker Co., Exeno Yamamizu Corporation and MOL - is launching a new JV with Mitsubishi called e5 Lab, which will work to develop and promote the greater use of "relatively clean modes of marine transport." The primary goal is to address seven key technological challenges facing Japanese shipping, including autonomy, sensors, ship data, standards for alternative propulsion, and the control of greenhouse gas emissions. The lab will promote electrification of coastal and oceangoing vessels and help Japanese shipping meet the IMO's 2050 greenhouse gas reduction target as soon as possible. 

The first vessel to benefit from e5 Lab's work will be a coastal tanker for operations within Tokyo Bay, and it is scheduled for delivery in 2021. The consortium's illustrations show the proposed tanker moored alongside the hull of a cruise ship, like an HFO bunkering tanker (video below). Traditional MGO and HFO bunkers are among the most carbon-intensive marine fuel options, exceeded only by natural gas-based methanol and natural gas-based hydrogen, according to a recent study by DNV GL. 

e5's new tanker is not the only recent initiative to eliminate shipboard emissions from the transportation of fossil fuels. In 2017, China State Shipbuilding Corporation launched the world's first all-electric, battery-powered inland coal carrier. The vessel carries up to 2,000 tonnes of coal for an electrical utility for a maximum distance of up to 40 nm per charge – all without generating its own emissions on board. The CSSC-built vessel is not necessarily emissions-free, as China's electrical grid derives about 60 percent of its power from coal-fired plants.