Raising the bar for electric boat production, ready to drive industry’s growth & sustainability

Four parties from the public and private sectors, including the Marine Department, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Banpu Next Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Banpu PCL., and Sakun C Innovation Co., Ltd., joined hands to sign an MoU in “Design development, production and standardization of quality electric ferries (e-Ferry) for the safety of water transportation and the promotion of maritime commerce.” The MoU highlights objectives to raise the production standards of electric ferries while increasing competitiveness at the national and international levels, which will lead to sustainable growth of the industry, as well as encourage all sectors to recognize the importance of using clean energy in the industrial and business sectors. The agreement especially aims to promote the use of e-Ferries in tourism which will not only help save the energy, but also reduce water and air pollution in the long term. By using efficient water vessels, it will help return sustainability to the aquatic ecosystem, as well as offering a better quality of life for people in the community and tourists. Thailand’s first e-Ferry for travel under the new partnership is scheduled to launch officially within this year, serving as a fast, convenient and environmentally-friendly travel option.

Mr. Withaya Yamoung, Director-General of the Marine Department, shared his view, “The Marine Department is the primary government agency to supervise and promote the development of safe, efficient water transportation systems and maritime commerce. In accordance with international standards, our mission is to push forward the aquatic and maritime interconnection with other public transit systems in order to promote convenience, speed, safety and better coverage of intercity travel for the people. Our department strives to ensure the standards and provides direction guidance for the e-Ferry development in Thailand. Under our consultancy, private sectors can benefit from the commercial extension of business, ranging from using modern assembly technology in compliance with government standards, jointly developing and transferring knowledge of electric technology systems, to reviewing the criteria, terms, conditions, and laws for the inspection of electric vessels in accordance with utilized modern technology. Therefore, this collaboration in the development and production of Thailand’s first electric ferries for travel is a crucial step to improve the standards of the country’s water transportation systems and maritime commerce.”

Dr. Julathep Kajornchaiyakul, Executive Director of National Metal and Materials Technology Center (MTEC), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), revealed, “NSTDA has been engaging in the activities regarding electric vehicles for over 10 years. We pioneered the development of battery technology with component systems, such as the BMS cooling systems. Recently, the government cabinet has approved to establish the National Energy Technology Center (ENTEC) to be the research entity with direct responsibilities in this field. Meanwhile, NSTDA continues the research and development of motor with control systems in order to identify new motor technologies that are suitable for domestic production. We also integrated cutting-edge technology, such as IoT, smart systems, and various design and structure analysis systems for electric vehicles focusing on lightweight to save the energy and increase safety. NSTDA is equipped with a research and service team with expertise in the development of standards, assessment, and product certifications. Our team of experts also has hands-on experience working with government agencies and in many fields of industry, such as standard formulations relating to electric vehicles, and IoT technology, such as socket-outlet standards and charging stations, etc. NSTDA will bring these strengths together to promote the operations under this partnership in order to create a sustainable development of the e-Ferry industry in Thailand.”

Mrs. Somruedee Chaimongkol, Chief Executive Officer of Banpu PCL. and Banpu Next Co., Ltd., revealed that “BanpuNext, a subsidiary of Banpu , as a leading smart clean energy solution provider in Asia-Pacific, continues to underline the Greener & Smarter strategy of Banpu by bringing together innovation, knowledge and expertise to support the development and production of the first e-Ferry for travel in Thailand. With regards to our e-Ferry development strategy, we’ve integrated a variety of energy technology solutions, utilizing both hardware and software in the production development, including high-capacity lithium-ion battery (LiB) - a prominent business of Durapower Holdings Pte Ltd—a joint-investment with BanpuNext, developed especially for the usage of e-Ferries. Moreover, the company has embarked on the procurement for e-Ferry charging stations. At the same time, we make sure to equip these stations with cutting-edge software technology, such as the Energy Management System (EMS) for energy storage control, charging and regulation of appropriate usage capacities. This enabled us to analyze the data in order to plan the preventive maintenance for the e-Ferries to always be ready and work with full efficiency. We believe that this joint partnership will help improve water transportation, promote the use of clean energy vehicles with high efficiency, help reduce environmental pollution, as well as create a better quality of life for people in the community, society and tourists.”

Mr. Namchai Sakunchoknamchai, President of Sakun C Innovation Co., Ltd., further explained, “Sakun C has been jointly studying the feasibility of electric ferries alongside NSTDA for many years. The vessels that we had successfully developed can directly support the installation of electric systems. However, there are limitations in many aspects as well as other components such as the electric systems that still cannot respond to the market. Furthermore, there are still issues about the battery usage, the confidence in spending, the warranty, the charging systems, the price range that is negotiables in business, the unclear rules and regulations, and the lack of technical professionals who are knowledgeable about the inspections and operations of the ships. Most importantly, there has been no organizations which can provide clear answers to these issues. Eventually, after we collaborated with BanpuNext, a leading smart clean energy company with robust policies and directions to create a sustainable development of alternative energy, we capped on their professionalism to answer these battery technology issues with the Energy Management System (EMS) and the charging system, as well as the warranty issues. We also had a meeting with the Director-General of the Marine Department regarding the production and registration of the e-Ferries, in which, he has provided great advice and assistance in calling meetings of all relevant parties in order to plan and improve the systems, as well as to develop human resources and work models in lined with current technology. Apart from this, we have invited NSTDA to share knowledge about all aspects of electric systems. This e-Ferry project jointly developed with BanpuNext has now progressed up to 90% and we are currently undergoing various system tests to ensure utmost confidence. These e-Ferries are not manufactured only for research purposes or for personal use. The vessels are produced for actual commercial purposes for the clients who placed orders to bring them to service in the tourism industry in the Southern Seas of Thailand. Therefore, we need to ensure a stringent and thorough standard testing procedure. We hope that this partnership will yield benefits to the Thai e-Ferry business sector.”