World’s first electric cargo ship used to haul coal

China has launched the world’s first all-electric cargo ship, though it is being used to haul coal, news site ThinkProgress reports.

China’s Guangzhou Shipyard International ship has a capacity of 2,200 tons and is designed for short-haul trips, with its 1,000 lithium batteries offering around 50 miles of travel on a two-hour charge. While loading and unloading at ports, the ship will charge ready for its next trip, news site ChinaNews.com reports.

State-run news site Global Times shared that the cargo ship is being used to transport coal for electricity generation on the Guangdong Province’s Pearl River, and it could in future be used for passenger travel, or “ro-ro” (roll-on/roll-off) voyages.

Chinese environmentalist Wang Yongchen told the Global Times: “This kind of ship takes into consideration the harmony between humans and nature and can protect water quality and marine life, and should be copied by other ships sailing on local rivers.”