“Eco Marine Power is a Japan-based technology company that focuses on the use of renewable energy in ships. The company’s business model is to devise its own integrated solar and wind power systems and develop them in cooperation with Japanese marine manufacturers and other partners. The company has recently signed a memorandum of cooperation with ship owners for the installation of integrated solar and wind systems on actual ships.
1) Firstly, please tell us the story of Eco Marine Power’s foundation.
GA) In 2010 I begun a study project regarding how renewable energy technologies might be used on ships as a way of reducing fossil fuel use and noxious gas emissions. Around that time the primary concern was the impact that shipping emissions, especially particulate matter (PM), were having on the health of people near shipping lanes and ports. Initially my focus was on the use of sails as a form of supplementary propulsion and solar power as a source of supplementary power. But since my background was in electronic systems, I also started to think at an overall system level, what other technologies could be included.
I was also fortunate enough to meet the president of a Japanese company that developed automation systems for ships during the early part of the study project. This led to a system development project being started and this was designated the “Aquarius Project”. Soon afterwards in 2010, Eco Marine Power (EMP) was formed and work begun on the development of an integrated wind and solar power solution for ships. This system is now known as Aquarius Marine Renewable Energy (MRE).
2) EMP has been developing renewable energy based solutions for shipping industries. What kind of business model is EMP aiming for?
GA) Ultimately EMP aims to focus primarily on R&D and work with strategic partners to provide the hardware, software and services for our solutions to shipyards & ship owners. This means we would like to focus on developing new solutions and then licensing these solutions to other companies. In many ways our business model is unique in shipping, since the company is primarily focused on the generation of intellectual property (IP) including product designs, not the actual production or hardware or development of software.
3) What is the current status of the company?
GA) EMP works primarily via a network of strategic partners & cooperating companies. It is not a traditional company and primarily functions as a “system house” and owner of intellectual property (IP) including patents and trademarks. We have a small team in Fukuoka plus work with freelance designers in several countries who all bring their unique skills and talents to our projects.
We also have a very supportive network of strategic partners namely. KEI System. Teramoto Iron Works and Furukawa Battery. In addition, we have regular online meetings with a group of shipping companies to discuss future projects and new ways to improve the energy efficiency of ships. Companies within that group includes ADNOC Logistics & Services, StarBulk and ZEABORN Ship Management (Singapore).
4) Please tell us about EMP’s R&D achievements and business activities since the establishment of the company.
GA) Since 2010 EMP has developed a number of innovative renewable energy systems and devices for ships including Aquarius Marine Solar Power, Aquarius Marine Renewable Energy (MRE), the Aquarius Management & Automation System (MAS) and the EnergySail. Patents have also been granted covering our Aquarius MRE and EnergySail plus this year EMP applied for another patent related to a new and innovative type of sail-like device.
EMP also begun looking at how various energy saving device and measures could be integrated together to improve the energy efficiency of ships and in 2011 the Aquarius Eco Ship project was started. The Aquarius Eco Ship is a green shipping concept design and ongoing comprehensive study project focused on optimizing the design of ocean-going ships such as bulk carriers, tankers, RoRo vessels and cruise ships, to harness the power of the wind & sun plus incorporate other emission reduction and energy efficient technologies and future propulsion systems including hydrogen fuel cells.
In 2019 we worked with ZEABORN Ship Management (Singapore) to install our Aquarius Management and Automation System (MAS) onboard one of their ships. The Aquarius Management and Automation System or Aquarius MAS is a cost-effective fuel consumption monitoring system and data logging platform suitable for a wide range of ships. The system uses class-approved components and can be fitted to new ships or easily retrofitted to existing ships. Our solar power system was also installed on this ship.
In May 2021, ClassNK granted Approval in Principle (AiP) to “Aquarius Marine Renewable Energy with EnergySail” This we believe, is the first integrated wind & solar power system for ships in the world to obtain this type of approval. Aquarius MRE is an advanced integrated system of rigid sails, marine-grade solar panels, energy storage modules, charging system and marine computers that enables ships to tap into renewable energy by harnessing the power provided by the wind and sun. The array of rigid sails are automatically positioned by a computer system to best suit the prevailing weather conditions and can be lowered and stored when not in use or during bad weather.
5) What is the core competency of the company?
GA) EMP’s core competencies are related to designing solutions that encompass a range of technologies that enable the energy efficiency of ships to be improved and provide vessels with sources of emissions-free power & propulsion. These technologies range from wind-assisted propulsion and power devices through to computer control and management systems.
6) Can you explain the future plans of the company and products?
GA) Our plan is to begin installation of the subsystems associated with Aquarius MRE later this year or early next year. This project will involve the installation of a complete Aquarius MRE System on the ship in stages and the evaluation of each subsystem in cooperation with the shipowner, before moving onto the next stage. Recently EMP signed a memorandum of cooperation with a major ship owner regarding this project.
One of our key strengths is that we have engineered our systems to be relatively easy to install. For example our solar power system was installed on a ship entirely by the crew with remote support provided by the ship manager and EMP. We intend to follow the same approach for the Aquarius MRE project although for some equipment, additional technical & design staff will be needed especially when the EnergySail’s are fitted. We also plan to introduce new photovoltaic (PV) technologies and installation methods as part of this project, plus we are studying how other renewable energy devices, including wind turbines, could be incorporated into the overall system architecture.
In terms of R&D, we will work on design variations of the EnergySail including options thereby allowing them to be used on cruise ships. Later this year we intend to expand upon our Aquarius Eco Ship research and design work, including adding further energy saving devices including air lubrication systems and additional renewable energy related technologies.
We have also been exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) can be incorporated with our automation systems and control algorithms.
Additionally, we see applications for our solutions in areas such as offshore power and land-based renewable energy projects and will explore those business opportunities also.
Throughout 2021 and 2022 we will be seeking to work with other strategic partners so that we can expand our sales network and deliver services and products worldwide. Later this year we will also consider an IPO or bringing in other investors, so that we can expand our company or perhaps form a joint venture company.”
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