THE TRANSPORT REVOLUTION IS BROUGHT TO THE WATER.
USING ELECTRICITY TO POWER CRAFT ON INLAND WATERWAYS IS RIGHT ON-TREND. FROM CANALS IN NORWAY TO THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF BANGKOK: ECO-FRIENDLY DRIVES FROM TORQEEDO ARE PICKING UP SPEED.
The yacht glides serenely through the Telemark Canal. Orchards, pine forests, and sawmills hove into view, as do the ever-present rugged rocks. It could only be Norway: the country where 90 percent of electricity already comes from renewable energies is now also leading the charge in inland navigation. In the spring of 2021, the first all-electric charter fleet launched here in the southern part of the country. Six new yachts, built by the company Greenline Yachts in Slovenia, now connect the villages along this 105 kilometers waterway between Skien and Dalen. The yachts are powered by the eco-friendly Deep Blue electric motors made by DEUTZ subsidiary Torqeedo. “The project shows how high-tech electromobility and government investment are paving the way for a less carbon-reliant future,” says Torqeedo managing director Dr. Michael Rummel. But Torqeedo, as a pioneer for electric-powered transport on water, is already looking well beyond Norway: “We believe that there is huge potential for our drives to be used on inland waterways all over the world,” says Rummel. The European Commission is also increasingly championing inland waterways as a green mode of transport. It seems the transport revolution has now been brought to the water.
Green, Clean, and Convenient
Norway’s national transport plan sets the country a target of halving emissions from all ships and boats used in inland transport by 2030. The Greenline yachts, with their dark-blue solar cells shimmering on the roof, are the perfect fit for the transport revolution. Torqeedo’s user-friendly DeepBlue drives provide a complete energy management system. For a green conscience, and for greater convenience too.
The fast-charging batteries in the hull of the yachts also come from Torqeedo and have a range of 50 kilometers, with a top speed of eleven knots. Financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, ten new fast-charging stations have been installed along the Telemark Canal and on the coast around the town of Porsgrunn. “Instead of being tied to a power outlet overnight, you’re charging up with green power in port,” says Stephan Bayerle, who manages Torqeedo’s global accounts. It takes no more than three hours for the batteries to be fully charged from a 20 percent charge. Time for a meal or a walk – and then the journey can continue. The operating company Canal Boats isn’t just promising a saving of 200 tons of CO2 a year. There is also a monetary benefit. Whereas a one-week tour used to cost around €350 in diesel, holiday-makers can now expect to pay less than €70 for electricity.
A Smart Solution in Thailand
Thailand is also demonstrating how well the advantages of electric-powered transport can be harnessed on inland waters. In November 2020, a formal ceremony marked the maiden journey made by Bangkok’s first zero-emission fleet for commuter traffic. A water taxi had already been reliably taking the people of Bangkok to work since 2018, and it is now joined by seven new vessels. At a length of 14.5 meters, each one has 30 seats and offers storage space for bicycles.
Two 10 kW electric outboard motors from Torqeedo’s Cruise range, twelve Power 24-3500 lithium batteries, and four rapid chargers have replaced the previous 205 h.p. diesel engines. The high-tech, wheelchair-accessible and zero-emission ships shuttle every 15 minutes along a five-kilometer route that links a subway station, a canal, and a key transport artery, the Chao Praya River, that features a number of other express ferries. For Bangkok, which is plagued by air pollution and traffic chaos, electric-powered ferries are a real step forward as part of an intermodal public transport system. “We are getting closer to our Thailand 4.0 Smart City vision,” says Dr. Ekarin Vasanasong, deputy managing director of the operating company, which is part of the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority.