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Battery Tanker X, a “tanker” that transports clean energy

A tanker? No, a battery carrier! And not just any. Charged batteries via renewable energy sources. This concept of ship designed by PowerX could be used to supply cities far from these sources of virtuous production.

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Oil is transported with oil tankers, so why not transport electrical energy by tanker. This is the project put forward by the Japanese company PowerX. It intends to launch a “tanker”, or rather an electric generator with mobile batteries. The 140 meter long vessel will be capable of transporting up to 241 MWh of renewable energy across the waters, over relatively short distances.

Why transport this energy by sea? To respond to a concern related to the geographical and geological environment of Japan. The country produces renewable energy, but it is often generated a significant distance from where it is most needed. Laying submarine cables is not a viable solution, since the territory is surrounded by deep, earthquake-prone seas. Ships lined with batteries having stored this renewable energy were therefore the solution considered by PowerX. It must be said that the firm is itself a major producer of batteries. For this supply ship, the energy would be stored in ninety-six lithium iron phosphate battery modules. They would take the volume of several containers. But is it really reasonable to embark so many batteries on sea water, knowing that the risk of fire is critical for batteries.

This “tanker” carries batteries charged with energy from renewable sources. It would make it possible to meet the needs of cities far from virtuous energy sources. © PowerX

Move renewable energy

Yes, according to PowerX, because the ships will be equipped with gas emission control mechanisms and fire suppression systems. Called Battery Tanker X, this prototype ship is not designed to sail very far. Fitted with an electric motor, in order to avoid drawing too much on the on-board energy reserves, the boat will limit its range to just 300 kilometres.

After this demonstrator, the company plans to create a much larger ship. It could carry eight times as many batteries, for a cumulative energy total of 2 GWh. With this big boat, energy could be transported over long distances to serve cities, even countries far from the centers of energy production. But before that, more concretely, a PowerX boat could supply energy to the city of Aomori, located 100 kilometers from the sources of renewable energy production in Hokkaido. With this process, no less than 4,190 GWh of electricity per year could be transported. The company plans to build this Battery Tanker X in 2025, with trials in national and international areas planned as early as 2026. Ambitious…

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