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Tuesday, August 6, 2019 

Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu Corporation, Mitsui OSK Lines, and Mitsubishi Corporation have announced an agreement to create a strategic partnership to provide new infrastructure services in the marine shipping industry that focus on electrically powered vessels.

The newly established joint company, to be knowns as e5 Lab, will work to develop and promote the greater use of relatively clean modes of marine transport.

e5 Lab has identified seven major challenges facing Japan's shipping industry, which it will seek to address by consolidating the technologies, know-how and networks of its four major shareholders. According to MOL, one of the partners, the new company will: "Develop a platform to provide a lineup of services that takes advantage of electrically powered vessels and other cutting-edge technologies. The aim is to leverage this platform to encourage sustainable growth and development within the marine shipping industry."

The seven challenges are:

  • Control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and help to combat the adverse impacts of climate change by converting vessels to electric propulsion.
  • Improve working environments and mitigate crew shortages by upgrading onboard communications systems.
  • Leverage sophisticated sensor technologies to improve ship maintenance and management, thereby ensuring that aging vessels can be operated as safely as possible
  • Leverage autonomous sailing technologies and big data to provide onshore support for crews and contribute to safe, reliable and efficient ship operations.
  • Offer an electric-vessel platform to all stakeholders in the marine shipping industry (including shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, ship owners and operators, and cargo owners), standardize vessels and otherwise help to develop a sustainable growth model within the industry.
  • Propose standards on the swift and broader application of next-generation technologies.
  • Leverage large-capacity, rechargeable batteries to provide emergency backup power and otherwise assist with the business continuity planning of local communities.

The first objective for e5 Lab will be to build the world's first zero-emission tanker by mid 2021. The tanker will be a coastal vessel powered by large-capacity batteries and will operate in Tokyo Bay. The company will develop other kinds of electrically powered vessels to address the abovementioned challenges.

Furthermore, e5 Lab will actively promote the electrification of both coastal and ocean-going vessels, and pool the technologies, human resources and operational know-how needed to achieve the IMO 50% GHG reduction target as soon as possible (the IMO wants to see annual emissions drop to half of their 2008 levels by the year 2025).

The e5 name comes from five kinds of e-value (Electrification, Environment, Evolution, Efficiency, and Economics) which e5 Lab will offer as new innovations.

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