PowerX: World’s first battery tanker breaks cover

Japanese battery startup PowerX Inc. has unveiled a detailed design of the first-ever battery tanker at the Bariship International Maritime Exhibition held in Imabari City in Japan.

Future model of the Power Ark 100 Series; Credit: PowerX

As informed, this electric propulsion vessel will feature a length of 140 meters and will be equipped with 96 containerized marine batteries, providing a total capacity of 241MWh.

The inaugural ship of Power Ark 100; Credit: PowerX

According to the company, the onboard battery system is based on our proprietary module design, and encompass lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells that can manage a lifespan of over 6,000 cycles. Additionally, the battery system is highly scalable, allowing for the installation of additional batteries to create larger electric transport vessels such as Power Ark 1000 or even larger sizes to meet specific mission requirements. 

Furthermore, the system includes dedicated gas emission control and fire suppression mechanisms to ensure safety. 

All batteries will be manufactured in-house in Okayama Prefecture and are scheduled to obtain international ship classification certifications and applicable standards such as DNV and Class NK.

Delivery of the batteries is scheduled to commence by mid-2024. The inaugural ship “X” will be completed by 2025, with domestic and international field testing planned to commence in 2026, PowerX said.

The Japanese company also revealed that a new company called Ocean Power Grid Inc. will be established in the third quarter of 2023 to advance the maritime power transmission business using battery tankers. This company will own, sell, and operate the battery tankers in Japan and abroad.

PowerX has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and a partnership agreement with Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd. and the City of Yokohama to pursue this new maritime power transmission concept and achieve carbon-neutral ports.

Role of battery tankers

The role of battery tankers is to establish new power transmission networks across the sea, promoting renewable energy storage, supply, and utilization. 

Their onboard battery systems will allow them to store and transport surplus electricity generated from renewable sources.

Furthermore, decommissioned or idle thermal power plants located near ports can be retrofitted into charge/discharge points for the battery tankers, where the power is transmitted to users via grid connections on the land, enabling further effective use of renewable energy, according to PowerX.

“…areas with high potential for renewable energy generation are often distant from urban areas and regions with high power demand. Strengthening transmission infrastructure becomes essential in such cases. Given the current energy density of lithium-ion battery cells, the Battery Tanker is an optimal solution for short-distance maritime power transmission from land to land, complementing existing inter-regional grid transmission lines. For instance, in Japan, a Battery Tanker can carry power from regions with high renewable energy supply potential, such as Kyushu and Hokkaido, to high-demand areas of Honshu or for inter-island power transmission,” the firm noted.

The vessels are also intended to serve the offshore wind market where they would enable the installation of offshore wind farms in areas where undersea cable deployment was once challenging. 

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