Some may think electric cargo ships are as easy to build as electric cars but that is not the case. With a giant cargo requiring a battery that weighs 1.6 billion pounds, makes the idea sound almost impossible. However, one start-up plans to soon begin crossing the Pacific with smaller electric ships that swap batteries at ports along the way. Although this may require diversions, it could prove to be cheaper than using fossil fuels to power the vessels.
“We started with the problem of decarbonising ocean freight and finding a way to make it not cost more,” says Steven Henderson. With the alternatives of ammonia or green hydrogen power costing four times more than crude oil, this is not a sustainable replacement for the industry.
At first, the thought of installing a battery powerful enough to propel a giant cargo ship across the world was not viable. Vessels have space for around 10,000 – 20,000 containers, leaving little room for a battery. However, it was calculated that if ships were smaller (carrying between 3000 – 4000 containers), a battery powered system could make sense with stops along the way.
With many companies such as Amazon, Ikea and Maersk committing to zero carbon shipping by 2040, this battery powered solution may evolve sea transport. In addition, Henderson says “What we’re convinced of today is that the future of shipping is electric.”
Do you think smaller, battery powered vessels are the future for the shipping industries?
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