The Marine Department expects boats and ferries in the country to begin shifting to electric engines next year, following the successful trial launch of an electric ferry on the Chao Phraya River by renewable energy firm Energy Absolute Plc.
Withaya Yamoung, the department’s director-general, said the first phase of development will focus on public transport vessels, as those are the easiest for which to set up charging infrastructure along set routes.
The launch of the first electric commercial ferry was delayed from March to July because of the pandemic.
“Concerns about PM2.5 air pollution, smog emissions, noise pollution and increasing costs for ferry operators prompted them to start paying attention to EV ferries,” Mr Withaya said.
He said the official trial launch of EV ferry cruises on the Chao Phraya on Friday by Energy Absolute may persuade local ferry operators to swap their diesel engines for electric.
Chao Phraya Express Boat Co operates 70 ferries, and the Sansab Express Boat Co runs 60.
Banpu Plc, another energy firm, is conducting a trial of electric ferries to run between tourist islands and the mainland.
Mr Withaya said a plug-in electric river cruiser has been introduced by Energy Absolute and will begin operations by next April. The ferry will run between Phra Nangklao Bridge in Nonthaburi and Saphan Taksin skytrain station in Bangkok.
Some hotels that operate river dinner cruises are also showing interest in electric engines, but they are waiting for battery prices to drop by half in the coming year.
Energy Absolute deputy chief executive Amorn Sapthaweekul said the company expects to launch 20 electric river cruisers, which are in a trial period, by the end of 2020, with 10 more expected early next year, aimed at transporting commuters from central Bangkok to outer areas along the river.
He said a further 23 electric ferries will be delivered early next year with a budget of 1 billion baht, including ferry and fast-charge infrastructure.
The company is also making 5,000 electric sedans by early next year for use as taxis.
For its renewable energy segment, EA is conducting a feasibility study with Lao firms Chaleun Sekong Energy Co, Vega Digital Co and PSL Service Sole Co to develop two hydroelectric power plants in Laos. The study is expected to be completed within the next two years.
The potential projects, named the Sarava Down Stream Hydropower Project and Phamong Hydro Power Project, are expected to have a combined capacity of 3,000 megawatts.