Monday, March 19, 2012

Now Hybrid Solar Powered Ocean Freight Vessels Begin to be a Reality

New Japanese Car Carrier Emits Zero Whilst Berthed
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – As good as their word Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has announced the launching of their hybrid car carrier, details of which were given in our story last July. The new ship Emerald Ace has been designed to generate zero emissions while berthed and the project was subsidised with Japanese Government funding. MOL is one of the leaders in trying to reduce the impact of ocean freight transport in all its forms.

The new vessel is on target for its official delivery date and will be the world’s first hybrid car carrier beginning test operations of its hybrid power system in June. The vessel’s hybrid system represents a significant step forward in realizing ISHIN-I, the concept for the next-generation car carrier that MOL announced in September 2009.

The Emerald Ace will be equipped with a hybrid electric power supply system that combines a 160kW solar generation system, jointly developed by the energy division of Panasonic and MOL, following the ship’s construction at the yard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe and will rely on lithium-ion batteries that can store some 2.2MWh of electricity. The new ship is almost 200 metres long with a carrying capacity of 6,400 standard sized passenger cars.

Conventional power generation systems use diesel-powered generators to supply electricity on board while berthed however on the Emerald Ace electricity will be generated by the solar power generation system while the vessel is under way and stored in the lithium-ion batteries. The diesel-powered generator will be completely shut down when the ship is in berth, and the batteries will provide all the electricity it needs, resulting in zero emissions at the pier. The lithium-ion batteries, which will be used as ballast, will be located at the bottom of the ship, without affecting the stowage capacity.

The development of this vessel was subsidized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) as a project that develops systems to reduce CO2 emissions from ocean-going vessels, and it is supported as a cooperative development project to reduce greenhouse gases produced by ocean shipping from the maritime certification and classification company Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (Class NK).

For their part the energy company that moved from Sanyo into the main Panasonic Group as part of that company’s recent restructuring, the development is significant due to the parent corporation’s desire to further improve its environmental credentials. Although Panasonic scores highly as one of the most environmentally friendly electronics producers, Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics has advised Panasonic it needs to improve its energy efficiency rating with projects such as this and its Primearth EV Energy Co. which concentrates on powering electric road vehicles.