The boating world looks to electric craft for the future

POWER BOATS: Plane Solar world record solar electric vehicle.

THE 2nd World Electric & Hybrid Boat Summit ‘PlugBoat’ opened on September 30 in Amsterdam, attracting some 100 participants from the boating industry, universities, business schools and national ministries.

With a majority of Europeans, the Congress also attracted experts from Canada, Japan, India and Hong Kong.

Highlights from the first day also included the decision by the city of Amsterdam to ban two-stroke engines on private boats from 2017, while offering a 50 per cent discount on the city mooring tax for clean boats.

Commercial vessels operating in the city (there are about 530 canal boats yearly transporting some three million passengers for sightseeing) will have to achieve zero emission by 2020 to be able to continue operating on the city canals and surroundings.

Boats powered by electricity have been used for over 120 years but by the 1920s when the internal combustion engine took dominance they lost considerable support.

With the onset of the energy crises of the 1970s, interest in this quiet and potentially renewable marine energy source has been increasing steadily again, especially as solar cells became available, for the first time making possible motorboats with an infinite range like sailboats.

The market currently falls into two categories, hybrids which are powered by a combination of diesel and electricity and pure electrical. Sizes range from simple day boats up to and including catamarans and newly developed speed boats.

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