CSA: Construction begins on electric tug and supply boat in Singapore

Construction has started on the first fully electric PXO tug (e-tug) and supply boat (e-boat) designed for Singapore’s waters, the Coastal Sustainability Alliance (CSA), an industry collaborative effort led by Kuok Maritime Group (KMG), said.

Courtesy of CSA

The Coastal Sustainability Alliance PXO Electric Fleet Signing & MOU Ceremony was held at Shangri-La Singapore on April 11, 2024.

As explained, the construction start marks a milestone in the collective industry effort to accelerate coastal decarbonization, transition to a circular economy and strengthen marine supply chains.

To be built by PaxOcean Group, these zero-emissions vessels are among the first and largest local electric harbour craft designed for operation in Singapore’s coastal waters. They are targeted for deployment in 2025, ahead of the nation’s goal for all new coastal vessels to be fully electric or operate on low-carbon energy solutions by 2030.

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The CSA enters its third year with a continued commitment to build a next-generation coastal logistics ecosystem. Progress has been made in five strategic areas.

The first one is the commercialization of the Singapore design-build-deploy PXO e-tug and e-supply boat. Pacific Workboats has committed to purchasing the e-tug, leveraging its capabilities to provide sustainable towage services for its customer base. Additionally, KMG is investing in the construction and trials of the e-supply boat. While efforts to charter out the e-supply boat are ongoing, commercial interest in the PXO series continues to grow, with several CSA members exploring opportunities to charter these next-generation vessels.

As the PXO series will be deployed from Jurong Port, KMG is collaborating with Jurong Port to provide the electric charging infrastructure to support the operations of electric vessels.

In February 2024, the CSA was among the shortlisted entities announced by MPA’s Expression of Interest (EOI) to transform Singapore’s maritime sector by designing and developing electric harbour craft.

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The second area is promoting sustainable resource management through e-waste reduction, upcycling and biofuels. Since 2023, CSA has partnered with Green COP to develop and commercialise second-generation biofuels as a transition fuel to reduce emissions from conventional harbour craft. Green COP has secured S$500,000 in angel investment to build a prototype plant to produce biobutanol. The biofuel is made from biomass feedstock and generates fewer emissions than petroleum fuels.

Furthermore, the third area is to reduce marine traffic by 20% through logistics and fleet optimisation solutions. A key part of CSA’s efforts is to integrate logistics, fleet operations, battery performance and just-in-time operations for vessels, terminals, and service providers. Utilizing advanced technologies in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the CSA is conducting optimization simulations with MagicPort on the coastal logistics platform, which is expected to go live by end-2024.

This platform will support the PXO e-supply boat in meeting the growing demand from the shipping community for marine logistics optimisation and traffic flow. The e-tug will also explore demand-supply match optimisation to reduce fuel wastage and dead mileage.

The fourth area is to support the growth of SMEs and start-ups through a sustainable green supply chain and maritime business ecosystem. Currently, over 50% of the components of the PXO vessels are sourced locally. Sea Forrest Power Solutions is in conversation to supply critical components such as motors, battery management systems, and batteries for the e-supply boat.

The CSA aims to partner with the Singapore Association of Shipsuppliers and Services (SASS) to upgrade sustainability competencies within the maritime workforce and facilitate a just transition for all SASS members towards a low-carbon economy.

Finally, the fifth area is talent attraction and workforce upgrading. As the maritime transport sector digitalizes and transforms, new jobs will demand cross-disciplinary skills in data analytics, automation, robotics and sustainability. To help mid-career switchers and employees upskill and take on new roles, Pacific Workboats is tapping into the MPA and Workforce Singapore’s Career Conversion Programme (CCP) to build new capabilities through skills upgrading and training programmes.

CSA’s multi-stakeholder approach to decarbonizing the maritime industry

In March 2022, the industry-led CSA initiative was announced under the leadership of KMG, which includes key business units: PaxOcean Holdings, Pacific Carriers Limited (PCL), and PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH) and provides a comprehensive platform for the CSA to achieve its goals to build the next generation of Singapore’s maritime ecosystem and accelerate the decarbonization, electrification and advancement in energy-efficient logistics and engineering solutions.

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The CSA is expected to invest over S$20 million into various sustainability efforts over the next ten years with the aim of a 50% reduction in vessel carbon emissions and 20% in marine traffic by 2030.

Nine new members will join CSA, expanding the alliance to 27 members from the initial seven companies when it was formed in March 2022.

“The expansion of the Coastal Sustainability Alliance and the commencement of construction for the PXO e-tug and e-supply boat signify a pivotal growth phase to create new revenue streams and scale the CSA ecosystem globally together with our alliance members. The joint contributions by CSA members and the continued support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) empower us to fast-track our investment commitment of S$20 million to 2025, accelerating this industry-led initiative to decarbonise our coastal ecosystem and advance the green track record for our maritime sector in a commercially sustainable manner,” Tan Thai Yong, Managing Director, Strategic Projects and Technology, Kuok Maritime Group and Chairperson, CSA Council, said.