Cosco builds battery-powered electric container ship for the Yangtze

Cosco is building two battery-powered electric container ships to operate on the Yangtze (Cosco)

Posted on March 22, 2022 1:54 PM by

The Maritime Executive

In a bid to boost the development of electric navigation and battery technology required for ships, China’s Cosco Shipping will build and operate two 700 TEU electric container ships on the Yangtze River. Due for delivery in late 2023, the ships are called China’s first zero-carbon green smart electrification pilot ships.

Cosco announced that it completed the construction order worth $18.4 million on March 18 in a ceremony involving 51 companies and institutions. Both vessels will be built at the Cosco Shipping shipyard in Yangzhou. Each will be 393 feet long with a beam of 77 feet and a depth of 18 feet. The first vessel is due for delivery in October 2023, followed two months later by the second. They will be operated by Shanghai Pan Asia Shipping, a subsidiary of Cosco, on the Yangtze from Shanghai to Wuhan, a distance of more than 600 nautical miles.

Cosco Shipping Development leads research to develop the ship’s power system. They will use containerized batteries with a capacity of 50,000 kWh charged on land. Cosco says this project will improve its ability to develop and manufacture the containerized marine box-type battery that will be the size of a 20-foot container. Each ship will use 36 of the batteries and Cosco plans to develop a network of charging stations and depots to swap the batteries along the river.

In addition to using battery power, the ships will also be equipped with new smart technologies. In addition to systems that monitor vessel operation and maintenance, technology will aid in navigation and a visual system to monitor the shipping channel and warn of dangers.

The company hopes to accumulate experience in the development and operation of container ships that can be used to further develop electric-powered ships. The goal is to fully electrify the Yangtze and expand to other inland routes including the Pearl River, Bohai Bay and North China.

China is developing its expertise in electric maritime transport. In a separate project, they launched the largest electric river cruise ship. Completed in early 2022, the Three Georges 1 is powered by a 7,500 kWh marine battery operating in the Three Georges Dam area. The cruise ship was due to enter service in April 2022 after initial trials.

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