A COALITION of Asahi Tanker Co, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui OSK Lines and Mitsubishi Corporation have come together to provide new infrastructure services in marine shipping that focus on electrically powered vessels.

The group will address what it calls the five e’s: electrification, environment, evolution, efficiency and economics. Aptly named the e5 Lab, the new company will develop and promote the use of clean modes of marine transport.

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

The e5 Lab has identified challenges facing Japan’s shipping industry, which e5 Lab will address by consolidating the technologies, know-how and networks of its four major shareholders.

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Challenges to be addressed by e5 Lab include:

  • Controlling greenhouse gas emissions and helping to combat the adverse impacts of climate change by converting vessels to electric propulsion;
  • Improving working environments and mitigating crew shortages by upgrading onboard communications systems;
  • Leveraging sophisticated sensor technologies to improve ship maintenance and management, thereby ensuring that ageing 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, shipowners and operators, and cargo owners), standardising vessels and otherwise helping to develop a sustainable growth model within the industry;
  • Proposing standards on the swift and broader application of next-generation technologies; and
  • Leveraging large-capacity, rechargeable batteries to provide emergency backup power and otherwise assist with the business continuity planning of local communities.

The e5 Lab said it will pool the technologies, human resources and operational know-how needed to achieve the 50% greenhouse gas reduction target of IMO as soon as possible – that is annual emissions dropping to half of their 2008 levels by 2050.

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