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Vision for wireless-charging electric harbour craft fleet in Singapore

Photo: Marcus Hand Tan Tai Yong, chair of CSA speaking at media briefing
A new alliance forged by Kuok (Singapore) Limited Maritime Group (KSL Maritime) has set out a vision for a fleet of electric harbour craft with floating and shore-based wireless charging stations for the Port of Singapore.

The Coastal Sustainability Alliance (CSA) helmed by KSL Maritime was launched on Monday with an aim reduce CO2 emissions from harbour vessels by 50% and marine traffic by 20%.

The alliance members include Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), GenPlus, Jurong Port Singapore, Sea Forrest, Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS), TES, and PaxOcean from the KSL Maritime Group.

Tan Tai Yong, CEO of PaxOcean and Chairperson of the CSA Council, said the alliance would design a series of fully electric PXO harbour vessels and floating platforms for wireless offshore charging. The PXO series of vessels would comprise pilot vessels, harbour tugs, passenger craft, lightering vessels, bunker tankers, as well as mobile coastal platforms in the form of barges and jack-ups for wireless offshore charging.

Speaking at media briefing prior to the launch event Tan said the PXO vessel series was currently at the conceptual design phase and it aimed to have a prototype vessel on the water by 2024. It plans to attract local SME vessels owners to place orders for the electrified harbour craft.

For the charging infrastructure Victor Yeap, Senior GM, Centre of Excellence, Engineering & R&D, KSL, said they plan to repurpose “expired” liftboats to give them a new lease of life as multi-purpose platforms. These platforms would house drones for deliveries, charging stations for the electric harbour craft, and solar panels and tidal wave technology to generate electricity.

“In 2025 we are probably looking at having a trial on having a combined eco-system where the vessel is ready and the sea charging facilities are ready,” Yeap said.

While the wireless charging technology has been developed there has yet to be a ship-to-ship trial, something which it is believed will be a first. “We are talking to MPA (Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore) to have a trial on the wireless charging between harbour craft and the charging vessel itself,” said Bernard Liew, Senior General Manager, Executive Office of KSL Maritime.

The aim is to deploy 10 PXO designed vessels by 2025, with a plan to extend the eco-system internationally by 2027.

With over 30% of Singapore’s current fleet of harbour craft over 20 years old, so there is a need for replacement vessels, and it is not a case of terminating vessels early to replace them with electric craft.

Using larger lightering vessels that can deliver to multiple vessels, as well as drones, the CSA aims to reduce marine traffic in the busy Singapore port waters by 20% on top of cutting CO2 emissions.

Speaking at the launch ceremony Kenneth Lim, Chief Executive (Industry) for MPA said he saw opportunities for the alliance in harmonising electric harbour craft infrastructure. “We encourage the Alliance to work closely with MPA and ESG and participate actively in developing a national standard for electric harbour craft charging infrastructure.”

CSA said the eco-system will be based on open standards and chairperson Tan said they welcome like-minded partners to join them.