China’s First Electric Ship is Both an Achievement and a Disappointment

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There’s an electric cargo ship in China, one that is capable of storing up to 2.4MWh worth of energy. In terms of size, the vessel is over 230 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 14 feet deep. The size allows it to carry up to 2,000 tons of goods, and that’s all while traveling 50 miles on a single charge.

Here’s the thing, this electric ship has 1,000 batteries on the inside, and guess what? The primary task of the ship is to ferry coal along the Pearl River in China’s Guangdong Province. It’s quite ironic that an electric ship will be used to carry coal, but it’s not all bad since China is cutting its dependence on the dangerous commodity.

China News

As for charging, well, Think Progress reports that each shipyard will have its own charging station, so after a long journey, the Chinese electric ship will regain its power while awaiting the next payload. Furthermore, the ship doesn’t take too long to charge, just two hours on the plug and it’s good to go.

“This kind of ship takes into consideration the harmony between humans and nature and can protect water quality and marine life, and should be copied by other ships sailing on local rivers,” Chinese environmentalist Wang Yongchen told the Global Times.

Now then, ferrying coal might not be the only plan for an electric ship in China. Apparently, the future could see these vessels be used for “passenger ships, ro-ro ships [roll-on/roll-off vessels carrying wheeled cargo] engineering vessels.”

The shipping industry today is a major polluter, and not to mention, it’s also poorly regulated. This is a problem every nation has to deal with, but slowly moving to electric ships could change a lot of things. Right now, it will take time before a cargo ship is capable of traveling hundreds and thousands of miles on a single charge, but 50 miles is a start.

It’s an impressive ship, and one of the first of its kind. We’ll definitely see more in the future as they improve to go further with the ability to carry more load.

The Chinese are not alone in trying to electrify cargo

Tesla recently unveiled its first electric truck known as Semi, and already the company is getting a lot of orders from interested businesses around the world. Daimler is also working on its own truck, and although it was first to make an announcement, Tesla has undoubtedly stolen its thunder.

Another company known as Cummins is working on an electric shipping truck of its own, while Toyota is testing the waters with a cargo truck based on hydrogen fuel cells rather than electricity. This isn’t surprising since Toyota has invested billions in hydrogen fuel, and as such, stands to butt heads with Tesla.