Ports of Auckland to get world's first fully-electric tug

Ports of Auckland is claiming a first in its efforts to go zero-emissions within two decades.

It will replace its old diesel tug with the world's first-ever fully electric-powered one.

However, boatbuilders didn't want a bar of it, insisting tugs must be diesel-powered because they do the gruntiest work. Hybrid maybe, but fully-powered by electricity - they said - was still four or five years away.

"It was like trying to run before you can walk. That's what they thought I was saying but over a period of time they thought we were just not going to take no for an answer," says Ports of Auckland general manager Allan D'Souza.

The dilemma was Ports of Auckland needed a new tug with a 25-year lifespan but diesel was a no-no with the carbon zero goal.

So it cajoled shipbuilders Damen into inventing a battery-driven tug with the same grunt, only cleaner and quieter.

The e-tug will have the same energy rating as 70 Nissan Leafs and enough grunt to push the big ships around.

It'll cost twice as much to build as diesel but should save millions over its lifetime.

"It means that we'll cut back our carbon emissions," says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. "It means that we cut out the pollution, it means that the vessels are quieter… it's good financially as well."

Of course, the ships being tugged will still spout emissions but from next year they too must cut the sulphur from their fuel.

The e-tug goes into production in Vietnam in six weeks.