Automated ships transporting offshore wind electricity attract major shipbuilder
Major Japanese shipbuilding, marine engineering, and service company, Imabari Shipbuilding, has entered into a capital and business alliance with the compatriot startup, PowerX, to jointly develop a prototype automated Power Transfer Vessel.
The Power Transfer Vessel, Power ARK 100, is a 100 TEU trimaran specifically designed for transferring renewable energy in Japan’s coastal waters.
Imabari Shipbuilding and PowerX plan to co-develop and build the prototype Power ARK 100 by the end of 2025, with the participation of third-party companies as necessary.
The Power ARK 100 will carry 100 grid batteries. Even with the smaller model with 220 MWh capacity, the Power ARK is expected to transport enough electricity for 209,000 Japanese households in just one single trip, according to PowerX.
”PowerX endeavors to accelerate decarbonization and the adoption of renewable energy with the Power Transfer Vessels,” PowerX CEO & Representative Director Masahiro Ito said.
”We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Imabari Shipbuilding for sharing our vision and supporting us at such an early stage. Through this alliance, we aim to jointly develop and introduce “Power ARK” to the world as a “MADE in JAPAN” product with Imabari Shipbulding. Going forward, PowerX will continue the efforts to realize a decarbonized society.”
PowerX will develop and manufacture the battery storage system and other battery-related systems to be installed on the prototype ship.
Imabari will also invest ¥1 billion ($8.8 million) in PowerX.
”The realization of a decarbonized society is a major issue that the shipbuilding and shipping industries must tackle. We see this alliance as an excellent opportunity for Imabari Shipbuilding to invest in as well as partner up with PowerX, who is taking on the challenge with a different approach from the existing shipbuilding and shipping industries. We are looking forward to working with PowerX to develop new solutions that can contribute to our society,” Imabari Shipbuilding’s President Yukito Higaki said.
The Power ARK will go into full-scale operation after testing with the prototype ship, PowerX said.
The vessel will be able to travel up to 300 kilometres when running only on electricity and will be able to unlock long-distance, intercontinental clean power transmission when it is powered by both electricity and sustainable biodiesel fuels.
PowerX will also build a gigawatt-scale battery assembly facility in Japan to mass-produce batteries for the Power Transfer Vessels. The factory’s annual production capacity will achieve 1 GWh by 2024, and will eventually reach 5 GWh by 2028, PowerX said.
Apart from the Power ARK 100, PowerX is also developing the Power ARK 1000 and the Power ARK 3000 models.