Green, Smart Ships to Make Debut in 2015.
Electricity-run vessels equipped with information technology (IT) will be built by as early as 2015, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Sunday. "A five-year blueprint for the next-generation shipbuilding industry will be released in the second half of this year. It will include ships that will graft IT functions onto the navigating system and use environment-friendly resources other than diesel for power," a ministry spokesman said.
Taking a step forward from the country's already leading status, this project aims to take the initiative in the global ship industry by bracing for future demand and exploring new markets, according to the ministry.
Technology preoccupancy is especially important in "green'' vessels, as low-carbon growth is emerging as an important issue worldwide, it added.
Several methods are currently under review, including the use of fuel cells as well as electricity, along with the development of new engines that use alternative fuels.
Seoul is in talks with several local research institutes on setting detailed targets for the project. The complete roadmap will be confirmed in collaboration with major shipyards here.
Competition in the development of eco-friendly vehicles is pushing the country toward the moves in ship development, industry watchers say.
A heated competition is under way in the global automobile industry, with most industrialized countries putting efforts into developing electric cars, but South Korea is regarded to be a step behind the front runners.
Following the i-MiEV by Japan's Mitsubishi, which is expected to start individual sales in the second half of the year, the United States and China are also looking to unveil their own models as early as next year.
South Korea will start churning out electric automobiles from next year.
Korea expects the new project to give the shipbuilding industry a breakthrough out of a sluggish performance last year, a nightmarish time for local builders after enjoying five years of boom.
Overall orders turned steeply downward as the global economic crisis forced carriers to cancel or delay existing orders, while Chinese builders made strong moves into the global market.
New orders at Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world's largest maker, fell 61 percent to $10.6 billion last year as orders contracted from major containership owners such as French-based CMA CGM and China Ocean Shipping Company.