World’s largest electric container ship launches in China

In China, the world's largest battery-electric container ship has started regular operations between Shanghai and Nanjing. The route covers almost 1,000 kilometres along the Yangtze River - without stopping to recharge.

Image: Screenshot from CCTV-Video

The ship named Greenwater 01, developed by the China Ocean Shipping Group (Cosco), is 120 metres long and 24 metres wide. It has a battery capacity of 50,000 kWh, which can be expanded to up to 80,000 kWh if required. This is possible because the batteries are housed in containers that can either be charged in the harbour or exchanged by crane.

With the battery-electric drive, the container ship is expected to save 3,900 kilograms of fuel per 100 nautical miles (185.2 kilometres) and reduce CO2 emissions by 12.4 tonnes. Extrapolated to the usual 965-kilometre route across the Yangtze River between Shanghai and Nanjing, this means a calculated fuel saving of over 20,000 tonnes – in practice, of course, consumption in inland shipping depends on whether the ship is travelling with or against the current.

The freight capacity of the Greenwater 01 is 700 TEU, with one TEU corresponding to a 20-foot standard container. According to Cosco, this means that the Greenwater 01 not only sets world records for the length, width and load capacity of a battery-electric ship, but also for container capacity.

“The 700 TEU electric container ship is the world’s first large all-battery container ship for long-distance transport,” Cosco Shipping wrote in March 2023. “After construction, this series of ships will be put into operation on the Yangtze River. It will realise the green modernisation of the golden waterway and provide the experience and solutions of key state-owned enterprises for China’s inland and coastal shipping industry to reduce emissions.”

According to Cosco, the project on the Yangtze River will serve as a model for future environmentally friendly shipping projects. The company had already started building a second electric container ship in May last year.


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