Delivery and naming ceremony of first emission-free pusher tug

In Berlin’s Westhafen yesterday, the mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey named the push boat Elektra, a landmark vessel construction on shipping’s decarbonisation pathway.

The vessel, which which features battery-electric propulsion combined with hydrogen and fuel cell technology, was built at shipyard Hermann Barthel in Derben and will be operated by HGK Shipping.

With 750 kg of gaseous hydrogen on board and a battery capacity of approximately 2,500 kilowatt hours, the ship has a range of a 400 km when sailing in combination with the loaded heavy lift barge Ursus (pictured).

The first stations for the changeover of hydrogen tanks and 500 kilowatt electric charging stations will be operational in Berlin’s Westhafen as well as in the port of Lüneburg in 2023.

The partners involved in the project including state entities, universities and private firms say they will soon work on other commercially viable inland shipping vessels and coastal ships based on the technology gleaned from the Elektra.

In his opening speech, federal transport minister Dr Volker Wissing described Elektra as a “lighthouse project”.

“The entire project is a blueprint for the climate and environmentally friendly inland shipping, not only technically but also in terms of regulation – real pioneering work,” Wissing said.

In related news, over in Japan Tokyo Kisen and e5 Lab have just held a naming and launching ceremony of the electric tugboat Taiga, currently under construction at Kanagawa Dockyard.

The Taiga is powered by an electric propulsion system that combines e5Lab-developed large-capacity lithium-ion batteries and a diesel engine.

The Taiga is slated for completion in December 2022, and will operate mainly in the ports of Yokohama and Kawasaki as a harbour tug after delivery. In addition, installation of power supply equipment on a floating pier designed especially for the Taiga will be completed when the tug enters service.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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