Singapore’s 1st fully electric cargo vessel, the Hydromover, hits the water

The Goal Zero Consortium, comprising companies such as SeaTech Solutions International (S), Shift Clean Energy, and Yinson GreenTech, has launched Singapore’s first fully electric cargo vessel, the Hydromover.

Image credit: Yinson Green Tech

The milestone launch was revealed by the CEO of the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore, Eng Dih Teo, saying that more electric vessels are expected to ply Singapore’s waters in the coming months.

As announced by Teo, a companion electric vessel, the Hydroglider, is currently undergoing sea trials.

Yinson GreenTech also confirmed the launch, saying that Hydromover is the first project to be ready for commercial trials, which puts it in an ‘advantageous position in the commercialization and innovation space.’

During the ceremony, YGT acknowledged five potential partners who have provided letters of intent to charter the Hydromover for operational trials, with the view to electrify their fleets in the future.

These are two Goal Zero partners Lita Ocean and DM Sea Logistics, as well as OPL Services, RW Marine Services, and Tian San Shipping. The five parties’ combined fleet stands at over 150 vessels, marking significant potential for future conversion to electric vessels.

 “Being the first to launch a fully electric lighter craft in Singapore marks a transformative moment for YGT. The Hydromover exemplifies what can be achieved through strategic partnerships and alliances with like-minded partners. We are excited to have already received expressions of interest from across the region including Indonesia, where YGT has begun talks with interested parties to deploy the vessel for backwater transportation of goods and electrification of local fishing vessels,” YGT Chief Executive Officer, Eirik Barclay, said.

“We are confident of reaping significant advantages from being an early mover in the race to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and we are pleased to already be in talks with supportive financing partners such as UOB and potential equity partners.”

“This is a significant milestone for the Goal Zero Consortium which had responded to previous MPA -SMI Joint call-for-proposals for the electrification of harbourcraft. The knowledge and capabilities gained through the development of the electric lighter craft will certainly add to the industry’s understanding of electric harbourcraft designs and technology options for cargo transport vessels,” MPA Assistant Chief Executive (Industry and Transformation), Kenneth Lim, said.

The Hydromover was one of the three winning proposals announced by the MPA and the Singapore Maritime Institute, to develop and commercialize an all-electric cargo vessel with interoperable swappable battery infrastructure solutions.

Out of 16 proposals received, the Goal Zero Consortium, along with two others, was shortlisted to enhance its technical and commercial viability.

Image credit YGT

The lightweight, 18.5m vessel is equipped with swappable batteries, allowing it to transport up to 25 tonnes of cargo.

The vessel, being all-electric, has zero emissions and targets to achieve up to 50% operational cost savings due to improved energy efficiency and lower maintenance costs. Its battery, when depleted, can be swapped within minutes to minimize operational downtime.

The Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS), and the Singapore Institute of Technology assisted in the engineering and construction plans of Hydromover, which will be classed by RINA Hong Kong Limited Singapore Branch.

RINA also handed over the Certificate of Classification to YGT during the event, signifying the Hydromover’s admission to class survey and compliance with RINA Rules for battery-powered vessels. The vessel has also passed an extensive risk assessment relating to battery operation and swapping, ensuring compliance with the most stringent international safety standards in the maritime industry.

The Hydromover will serve as a ‘living lab’ for YGT and Goal Zero’s R&D partners including SIT, and TCOMS, which are working on a holistic digital twin of the vessel. This will facilitate research on the combined effects of variables such as vessel hydrodynamics, propulsion, motor dynamics and battery performance, allowing ship designers and operators to enhance operational efficiency and safety.

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This electric cargo vessel can operate at 8-10 knots, covering up to 40 nautical miles at half load. It boasts several efficiency features, including a catamaran aluminum hull for reduced drag, lightweight components, solar panels, azimuth thrusters for swift directional changes, and swappable high-energy-density batteries.

The introduction of swappable batteries allows the Hydromover to minimize operational downtime, making it more productive than conventional harbourcraft. With reduced downtime, a smaller fleet can accomplish the same amount of work, leading to enhanced productivity and reduced operating costs over the vessel’s lifetime.

“The launch of the Hydromover will drive the revolution of cargo transportation in the maritime industry. As the lead bank to finance YGT’s development of the prototype, we are pleased to support this achievement, and the efforts of MPA and SMI to promote sustainability through innovative green projects. We stay committed to work towards our national goal of decarbonizing the maritime industry, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Eric Lian, Head of Group Commercial Banking, UOB, said.

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The MPA, in alignment with its decarbonization efforts, is mandating all harbor craft to transition to fully electric, capable of using biofuels or being compatible with net-zero fuels like hydrogen by 2030. This move aims to not only cut emissions significantly but also brings various benefits such as lower maintenance, increased energy efficiency, and reduced noise pollution.