Port of Yokohama – Exploring the utilization of battery tankers

In March 2024, the Government approved a draft amendment to “the Act on Promoting the Utilization of Sea Areas for the Development of Marine Renewable Energy Power Generation Facilities” that would expand the location of offshore wind power generation facilities to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Japan’s EEZ is the sixth largest in the world, but approximately only 10% of the entire EEZ is less than 300 meters deep to allow for submarine power cables to be laid down.

The sheer depth of the ocean surrounding Japan’s coast, therefore, makes it challenging to lay the required undersea power cables to transfer power from floating offshore wind power generation facilities back to demand areas. To help address this issue, the City of Yokohama has signed a Partnership Agreement with TEPCO Power Grid and the Japanese start-up, “Ocean Power Grid” to establish a green power supply base to meet the increasing demand for electricity in the Yokohama waterfront area with the aid of battery tankers.

Battery tankers are the world’s first means of transporting electricity by sea and are expected to be a transmission solution that can expand the potential for offshore wind power, by resolving issues such as deep-sea surroundings, extended downtime from undersea cable malfunctions and repairs, and high costs associated with ultra-high voltage connections and substations. Ocean Power Grid, a subsidiary of Power X, has since issued the design for the first-ever batter tanker set for domestic and international field testing in 2026.

This ongoing collaborative project will also examine the possibility of supplying the Port of Yokohama with green power through the construction of electric power supply facilities to cope with increased demand and the provision of onshore power supply for cruise vessels, helping to transform it into a Carbon Neutral Port.