Four Japanese companies — Asahi Tanker Co., Ltd., Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation – have formed a strategic partnership to provide new infrastructure services that focus on electrically powered vessels. They have set up a new company, e5 Lab. Inc. (e5 Lab) that will work to develop and promote the greater use of clean modes of marine transport.
The new company will use the technologies, know-how and networks of its four major shareholders to develop a platform to provide a lineup of services that takes advantage of electrically powered vessels and other cutting-edge technologies. The aim is to leverage this platform to encourage sustainable growth and development within the marine shipping industry.
The first objective for e5 Lab will be to build the world’s first zero-emission tanker by mid 2021. The tanker will be a coastal vessel powered by large-capacity batteries and will operate in Tokyo Bay.
Other challenges that e5 Lab will address include
- Control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help to combat the adverse impacts of climate change by converting vessels to electric propulsion.
- Improve working environments and mitigate crew shortages by upgrading onboard communications systems.
- Leverage sophisticated sensor technologies to improve ship maintenance and management, thereby ensuring that aging vessels can be operated as safely as possible
- Leverage autonomous sailing technologies and big data to provide onshore support for crews and contribute to safe, reliable and efficient ship operations.
- Offer an electric-vessel platform to all stakeholders in the marine shipping industry (including shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, ship owners and operators, and cargo owners), standardize vessels and otherwise help to develop a sustainable growth model within the industry.
- Propose standards on the swift and broader application of next-generation technologies.
- Leverage large-capacity, rechargeable batteries to provide emergency backup power and otherwise assist with the business continuity planning of local communities.
The company will also develop other kinds of electrically powered vessels and will actively promote the electrification of both coastal and ocean-going vessels, and pool the technologies, human resources and operational know-how needed to achieve the 50% GHG reduction target of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as soon as possible (the IMO wants to see annual emissions drop to half of their 2008 levels by the year 2025).