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Asia heralds cleaner sea travel, with first hybrid electric ferry

Written by Maritime First
  • As Goodluck Jonathan warns: Religious extremism could kill Nigeria

Asia has launched a new hybrid electric ferry, which could revolutionise marine passenger transport across the region by curbing greenhouse and diesel emissions.

The Taiwanese harbour city of Kaohsiung recently re-launched the popular Cijian Island passenger ferry, retrofitted with a Visedo electric propulsion system, replacing the original diesel engine. It heralds Asia’s first hybrid electric ferry and, if successful, the Kaohsiung City Government plans to retrofit the rest of its diesel fleet to help reduce pollution levels around Taiwan’s largest harbour.

Visedo OY, a leading Finnish manufacturer of electric drivetrains for marine vessels, commercial vehicles and heavy duty applications, worked alongside Taiwan’s Ship and Ocean Industries R&D Center, also known as SOIC, to complete the retrofit.

In the words of Visedo CEO Kimmo Rauma, “Given the geography, ferries are a vital mode of public transport across East and Southeast Asia but they are also the most energy intensive per kilometer travelled. Until now, diesel ferries have been a dirty but necessary part of life around harbours like Kaohsiung.

“In Hong Kong for example, passenger ferries make up the majority of licensed vessels in Victoria Harbour, where it’s estimated air pollution kills about 3,200 people every year.

“Visedo has developed a cost-effective and efficient alternative, so rather than waiting until a vessel’s service life ends, harbour cities can swap noisy, dirty and expensive diesel for silent electric powertrains that are more efficient, can halve fuel costs and emit no fumes or oil pollution.”

Kaohsiung’s new e-ferry, Ferry Happiness, will halve daily fuel consumption while transporting 15,000 passengers every day to Cijian Island, a popular tourist destination in Taiwan, at a top speed of nine knots.

Launching from berth every 15 minutes, the ferry will help share the eight million passengers who travel the 650m route every year. It’s estimated the electric propulsion will save more than 25,000lt of fuel every year.

Visedo retrofitted the 100-tonne, 23m-long vessel with an electric system to replace the original 300HP diesel engine. The powertrain was designed to ensure pure electric cruising for half the ferry’s operation time and, with fast shore charging, this pure electric percentage can be higher.

Head of SOIC’s System Development ChihHung Lin said:

“Like many East Asian harbour cities, in Kaoshiung ferries play a key role for everyday public transport, often playing the role that buses do elsewhere.

“Taiwan’s ‘Harbour Capital’ has long suffered from air pollution and only a few years ago the average person was consuming double the national Taiwan average of carbon dioxide.

“In response the Kaoshiung City Government is committed to cleaning up its fleet and is currently considering the possibility of replacing all 11 of its vessels with this new type of e-ferry. This also includes embarking on a hybrid tug-boat project.”

In the meantime, former President Goodluck Jonathan has said if Nigeria fails to address religious violence and extremism, the menace will destroy the country.

Making specific mention of the unending killings in Southern Kaduna, the former President also declared that the solution to the Niger Delta crisis was already included in the report of the 2014 National Conference, held in Abuja.

He contended that military action would not solve the agitation in the region, stressing that it would create secessionist groups in the region.

Jonathan, in his presentation to the United States House Sub-Committee on Africa, on Wednesday, said failure to apprehend culprits of previous religious killings had emboldened those who engaged in such acts.

A copy of the presentation was made available to The PUNCH on Thursday in Abuja by the former President’s media aide, Ikechukwu Eze.

In his presentation, he grouped sensitive issues the sub-committee invited him to speak on as ‘Challenges facing Nigerian Christians and the Niger Delta Question’.

Advising the Federal Government on religious killings in the country, he said Nigeria could no longer ignore conflicts going on in various parts of the country.

Jonathan added, “If, as a nation, we do not kill religious persecution and extremism, then religious persecution and extremism will kill Nigeria.

“The potential danger associated with the level of conflicts going on across the country is so glaring that no sane mind can ignore.”

He noted that security agencies had a history of failing to apprehend the culprits.

Jonathan stated, “Your invitation (of the sub-committee) letter profusely highlighted the issues of the killing of Christians in Nigeria, the last major incident being the recent killings in Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State, and I do not need to elaborate on that.

“The challenge is how we stop that from recurring. How do we ensure that Christians and Muslims co-exist peacefully in Nigeria and practise their religions freely without discrimination, molestation and killings?”

He stated that although there had been more than 10 major incidents of ethnic and religious violence in Kaduna State since 1992, only in one were the culprits punished.

This, the former President said, was in Zango Kataf, when the Ibrahim Babangida administration sentenced 14 persons to death over the riot in the area.

Jonathan said he supported the recommendation of the 2014 National Conference that an Equity Commission be created to handle religious crisis.

Additional report from Punch

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