A shipyard in Guangzhou, the capital of China’s Guangdong province, has launched what it says is the world’s first all-electric cargo ship.
According to China Daily, the 230-foot vessel uses a 2,400 kWh battery system comprised of 1,000 individual lithium-ion packs. Range is 50 miles with a load of 2,200 tons of cargo and a top speed of 8 mph. Recharging time is two hours, roughly equivalent to the time needed to load or unload the ship.
According to Chen Ji, General Manager of Guangzhou Shipyard, which built the vessel, cargo capacity can be increased simply by adding more battery packs. “Theoretically, the fully electric-powered ship could have more capacity in cargo loading. If it is equipped with larger energy batteries, it will carry goods of more than 2,000 tons,” said Chen.
The new ship will save energy (and money) in two ways. Not only does it produce no local emissions (cargo vessels are major carbon pollution sources), but it will lower the cost of transportation for bulk cargoes. “The cost of electric power is less than that of traditional fuel. The main cost of the new-energy cargo ship depends on how much lithium battery it is equipped with,” Chen said.
Now for the bad (or at least, ironic) news: The all-electric cargo ship will be used primarily to transport coal to power plants along the Pearl River.