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New Zealand orders world’s first electric tugboat

Having set the goal of being a zero-emissions harbor by 2040, Ports of Auckland, New Zealand, has placed an order for the world’s first full-size electric tugboat. Developed by Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, the 70-ton bollard pull, all-electric tugboat will perform the same tasks at the same level as the ports’ strongest existing diesel tug. Damen will deliver the completed tug in 2021.

“In 2016 we set ourselves the goal of being zero emission by 2040,” said Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland. “We did this because we recognize that urgent action is needed on climate change, and we wanted to be part of the solution. However, setting that goal created a tough challenge. We have a lot of heavy equipment, like tugs, and in 2016 there were no zero-emission options.”

“When we first looked into buying an electric tug in 2016, there was nothing on the market,” said Allan D’Souza, Ports of Auckland’s general manager marine, engineering and general wharf operations. “We talked to several manufacturers about building a battery-powered tug. They told us we were dreaming. Hybrid tugs were possible, they said, but not battery. No way.”

After a three-year search, Damen Shipyards rose to the challenge. “They have invested a significant amount of time and money to develop this innovative vessel,” said Gibson. “In the fight against climate change, partnerships are important, and Damen has been a great partner.”

The e-tug will cost about twice as much as a diesel tug, and this price includes the cost of charging infrastructure. However, because the operating cost is so low, over the 25-year life of the e-tug, Ports of Auckland expects to save money overall.

- August 2019

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