The electrification of the world’s transport systems continues apace. With Tesla announcing new products in different segments, shipping was obviously the next on the list. With the Paris Climate Accord committing most countries in the world (apart from Trumpet’s America) to significant cuts to limit any change to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, every positive action makes a difference. Now, a Chinese company is launching an electric cargo ship.
Despite the United States being the world’s preeminent technological powerhouse in the last century, it appears that leadership is being ceded to other nations. This is particularly true in the field of climate change mitigation technology.
News today from China, with the launch of the world’s first fully electric cargo ship. The 70 metre long vessel was designed by the Hangzhou Modern Ship Design and Research Company, and built in Guangzhou’s Shipyard International. Guangzhou is one of the largest cities in China, and is located on the Pearl River Delta. It’s one of China’s largest industrial centres.
The electric cargo ship is loaded with 100 lithium battery packs, totalling about 2,400kWh of total power delivery, which takes about 2 hours to charge. This allows the ship to travel about 80 kilometres at a speed of just under 13 kilometres per hour. This is all while it’s loaded with 2,200 tons of cargo. The only problem is the cargo is going to be coal.
Of course, the use of an electric cargo ship to move coal around might seem ironic. Indeed, it is quite an ironic use of what is supposed to be an environmentally friendly vessel. But consider that coal fired power stations are still going to be around for quite some time. And the fact that most cargo ships use terribly dirty bunker oil, which makes bathing in petrol sound like taking a dip in some almond milk.
The use of an electric cargo ship might seem like a dumb idea. But at the end of the day, the world needs these changes to happen if dangerous climate change is to be averted. Every step counts, even if it sounds dumb, because positive change is what’s required.