Germany’s Torqueedo has received a large order from China, where the mega manufacturing hub Suzhou struggles to clean up its act. 177 workboats powered by Torqueedo’s all-electric drive are to be deployed on the region’s many waterways to scoop up debris.
It is an unusually large order for a company of Torqueedo’s size but small when seen in the context of China. Suzhou is one of the regions that have massively expanded to become a production powerhouse for the PRC’s economy but such growth has its price: waste.
The traditional and new canals in the regions are among the most heavily polluted in China. The city of Suzhou has thus ordered 177 small workboats to clean up its waterways without creating more pollution.
The order includes 18 launches, 22 catamarans and 137 wooden boats. All were designed by the China Ship Scientific Research Center and are fit to scoop up floating trash. Zero emission propulsion is to come from Torqueedo’s electric outboard motors.
Suzhou’s efforts are just a piece of the bigger problem as the Suzhou Creek drains into the Huangpu River, which passes through Shanghai and ends near the mouth of the Yangtze. Maritime Executive quotes scientists with the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research saying that 10 rivers in Asia and Africa are responsible for 95 percent of the world’s ocean plastic pollution, including the Yangtze and four other rivers that flow through China.
However, the People’s Republic is incrasingly looking to electrify maritime transport. In Guangzhou province for example, a massive cargo ship with an energy storage capacity of 2.4 MWh has been put into operation reportedly to run on the Pearl River. The company says more may come.
Also in Europe companies have begun looking into electric ships apart from ferries. Two electric container ships will start to carry cargo between Dutch Rotterdam and Belgian Tilburg this autumn reportedly.