China’s COSCO Shipping Development has ordered two 700TEU container ships from its affiliated Cosco Shipping Yangzhou shipyard for operation along the Yangtze River, both to be battery- powered.

The ships will be chartered out to Shanghai PanAsia Shipping, another COSCO company when delivered in 2024 and will serve the 600-nautical-mile route between Wuhan and Shanghai.

To allow all-electric navigation over such a long distance, the 393ft by 77ft vessels will make use of special ‘battery containers’ with the same dimensions as a standard 20ft container. All 36 battery containers needed to power each ship will then be dropped off and picked up, as needed, along the way to be recharged at shore stations.

COSCO’s goal, with government support, is to fully electrify marine transportation on the Yangtze River and then expand it to other rivers and bays, such as the Pearl River in the south of China and Bohai Bay in the north. The project follows completion of the river excursion vessel Three Gorges 1, which is powered by a 7,500kWh battery package developed by China’s lithium-ion battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL).

The 328ft by 53ft cruise ship, which can carry up to 1,300 day passengers, has the ability to operate for more than 60 miles before needing a recharge.

Report by Jim Shaw

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