Ulsan Taehwa is South Korea's first vessel operated by a hybrid electric propulsion system which can also use liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diesel. The passenger ship weighing about 2,700 tons was developed through a 448 million won ($34 million) state project that was kicked off in July 2020. Taehwa has a boarding capacity of about 300 people.
Ulsan said in a statement that the consortium will create various test environments and develop information and communication technology (ICT) solutions using ship operation data. Maritime classification organizations including the South Korean office of the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) will create guidelines for demonstrations and provide advisory services when necessary.
"It is essential to improve the market competitiveness through localization of key equipment," Ulsan's deputy mayor for economy affairs Ahn Hyo-dae said in a statement on December 15.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vessels by 30 percent by 2025, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a U.N. maritime safety agency, has adopted compulsory energy-efficiency measures. South Korean shipbuilders were prompted by the regulation to develop green technologies for ships. In April 2022, domestic green shipbuilder Vinssen partnered with Hyundai auto group to develop a small-sized hydrogen-electric ship that can operate for about 6 hours at 18.5 kilometers (11.5 miles) per hour.
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