Japanese shipping consortium to launch electric tanker in 2022

Artist impression of the electric tanker to be built by e5 Consortium. Credit: Mitsui OSK Lines

Seven major Japanese shipping companies have come together to develop and commercialize zero-emission electric vessels and expect to launch an electric tanker by March 2022.

The collaborative group, named e5 Consortium, is made up of Mitsui OSK Lines, Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, conglomerate Mitsubishi Corporation, power generation group Tokyo Electric Power Company, refiner Idemitsu Kosan, and insurer Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance. The e5 Consortium aims to establish a platform that brings together each member’s expertise in designing electric vessels.

The electric tanker will run on lithium-ion batteries and be deployed for domestic transportation. The aim for the vessel is to achieve zero emissions while overcoming the challenges of a depleting local maritime manpower. The latter will be supported by improving onboard communication systems and utilising elements of autonomous sailing technologies and big data to provide onshore support for crews and improve the safety and efficiency of operations. Sensor technology will be used to improve ship maintenance and management; key for ensuring older vessels can still be operated safely.

“Coastal shipping in Japan faces structural issues such as a shortage of mariners due to the ageing of the seagoing workforce, not to mention the ageing of the vessels,” said the consortium. “In addition, the ocean shipping industry has urged the coastal shipping industry to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases as one of Japan’s measures to address climate change.”

Launching the tanker will mark the first phase of the consortium’s strategy. “The e5 Consortium will promote the sustainable growth of coastal shipping in Japan and contribute to the nation’s social and economic development by providing added value to the coastal shipping industry through the development and introduction of advanced vessels,” the consortium said.