ABB to power Japan’s first electric tugboat

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Power system specialist ABB has been contracted by IHI Power Systems to develop an electric tug for the ports of Tokyo Bay for Japanese towage specialist Tokyo Kisen.

The new-build tug will feature ABB’s award-winning power system platform, Onboard DC Grid, and will be the first vessel of its kind to operate in Japan. The vessel, set to be named Taiga, is the result of a collaboration between Tokyo Kisen and e5 Lab, a Japanese consortium which plans and develops fully electric vessels.

The Taiga is under construction at the Kanagawa Dockyard in Kobe and is due for delivery by the end of December 2022. The tug will play a role in Japan’s ambition of achieving net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050.

Tokyo Kisen’s harbor tug will be used to maneuver other vessels by pushing or towing them. It will feature a 2.5MWh battery system supplied and integrated by ABB, reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a day-to-day basis, and acting as spinning reserve backup power to prevent prolonged outages. The tug’s futureproof configuration also enables it to achieve emission-free operations by integrating alternative energy sources as technologies mature.

“ABB is honored to be involved in such a prominent project to power the first electric tugboat for Japan,” said Munekazu Tanikawa, local division manager, ABB Marine & Ports. “Our hybrid and electric solutions have established a strong reputation in the short-distance shipping segment, now further strengthened by this prestigious opportunity in a highly competitive market.”

In addition to the energy storage solution, ABB will provide its Onboard DC Grid power system platform, which will enable the tug’s engines to run at variable speeds for optimized energy economy at each load level. This helps cut fuel consumption, reducing the environmental impact as a result. The batteries will be able to provide power to the tug’s propulsion system almost instantaneously, where ABB’s Power and Energy Management System (PEMS) will control the overall power distribution, increase fault tolerance and provide a high degree of reliability.

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Matt joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over 15 years and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International. He is also the chairman of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation & Excellence, and the Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International Awards.

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