The autonomous barges will be powered by batteries mounted in a container of their own, meaning the same method of running the ship could be used by existing diesel-powered vessels.
The clean shipping project is costing around $100million US Dollars. The technology for the electric ships was made possible through an investment of €7 million by the European Union. The port of Antwerp also invested €200,000 in the project to improve port efficiency.
CEO of Port-Liner, Ton van Meegen, told The Loadstar: “We can build upwards of 500 [electric vessels] a year, but at that rate it would take some 50 years to get the industry operating on green energy.”
The electric canal barges dubbed “Tesla Ships” are the latest in a long line of improvements to create a greener, carbon-free shipping industry.
Norway, which has an extensive network of cargo ships and passenger ferries, for its fjords and waterways, is also pushing ahead with plans for autonomous electric vessels.
With more electric lorries and carbon-neutral rail logistic solutions coming into practice perhaps the electric ships will be the next development in helping reduce carbon waste. They may not be able to span the globe with ocean freight just yet but converting coastal and inland ships to electric power is a sign of good things to come.
At Wallis Shipping we choose, and encourage our clients to use, low carbon logistics wherever possible. We have been heavily involved in a national low carbon logistics initiative to switch container shipping from road to rail logistics with great success. We accept our environmental responsibilities and recognise our obligation to reduce the impact of business activities on the environment. To view our full environmental policy, click here.