Electric bikes, electric cars, electric vans, electric trucks — we keep electrifying bigger and bigger vehicles. Next on the plate are large ocean vessels and airplanes. Regarding the latter, we’ve covered oodles of startup and large corporate efforts to get electric aircraft off the ground. (Pun not initially intended.) Regarding electric ocean vessels, that appears to be a much less mature industry, but work is commencing.
Interestingly, Japan seems to be taking a lead on this one. Seven Japanese companies joined forces last week to launch a zero-emission electric vessel consortium — the e5 Consortium.
The 7 founding companies are Asahi Tanker Co., Idemitsu Kosan Co., Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and Mitsubishi Corporation. As you can see, these are some big names, all headquartered in Tokyo.
In their own words, they have a “goal of establishing new ocean shipping infrastructure services through various initiatives to develop, realize, and commercialize zero-emission electric vessels.”
Apparently, a few of the companies — Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and MOL — recently built the world’s first electric ocean vessel, which was named the “e5 tanker.”
Here’s a video of the concept from one year ago:
Here are specs for the vessel:
Interestingly, the consortium seems intent on solving some other issues, aside from emissions/pollution, with their next-gen ocean vessels as well. From the press release announcing the partnership, they highlighted an aging workforce:
“Coastal shipping in Japan faces structural issues such as a shortage of mariners due to the aging of the seagoing workforce, not to mention the aging of the vessels. In addition, the ocean shipping industry has urged the coastal shipping industry to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) as one of Japan’s measures to address climate change. The seven e5 Consortium corporate members are focusing their attention on fulfilling the potential of electric vessels to solve these urgent issues. The consortium aims to establish a platform that offers innovative ocean shipping infrastructure services based on electric vessels bringing to bear the strength, technological know-how, networks, and other advantages of each member company.”
Perhaps the consortium plans for these vessels to be highly autonomous.
We’ll report on the e5 Consortium’s development in the coming years. Maybe we’ll even get to inspect one of these some day.