The future of coastal water boating is electric
Looking at the global trends and developments towards clean and environment friendly innovations, alternatives like solar electric propelled vessels could have the biggest growth potential in the near future! Although there seems to be enough awareness for electric alternatives in the automotive industry, the market of electric propelled vessels seems very much in its infancy.
The lack of real working alternatives for saltwater operations might have been the main reason why cities like Sydney, so far, have refrained from changing towards solar electric boats and ferries. For islands like Fiji, where boat transportation is the largest energy consumer with 58% compared to cars, buses and airplanes, sustainable alternatives on the water could have an enormous impact in the future. (Becken 2004)
A sustainable solution born in New Zealand
The Dutch company Soel Yachts is determined to change the boating industry by addressing sustainable sea transportation. Together with their partner Naval DC, Soel Yachts puts their 11 years of solar electric naval architecture experience into the SoelCat 12, a fully sustainable vessel proven for saltwater operations.
This week the solar electric 16-person catamaran, built in New Zealand, will be launched in Auckland. Energy autonomous and ready for all water taxi services, dive operations and reef excursions, “the SoelCat 12 reduces all disturbing sound and CO2 emissions in our harbours, lagoons and oceans”, proudly emphasises Joep Koster, co-founder of Soel Yachts.
Smart integration for higher performances
Soel Yachts believes that a solar electric boat needs to be an equally workable solution, addressing efficiency and performance. The SoelCat 12 therefore fits its purpose, or better said: it is designed for it in every single aspect. From the highly efficient hull lines to the matched and turnkey integrated solar electric propulsion system. It is basically the same approach Tesla is using for its cars: “one cannot just take any existing hull shape, add an electric motor and hope that it achieves a range of 150nm.” David Czap, the system integrator explains: “efficient electric propulsion requires an entirely different approach from nowadays technologies and practices. Therefore, all our vessels are integrally designed from start to finish for and with electric propulsion and the specific duty cycle in mind.”
With an installed battery capacity of 2 x 60 kWh, the SoelCat 12 standard operational profile is set to a cruising speed of 8 knots with a range of 6 hours solely running on battery power and a maximum speed of 14 knots. Once the sun starts to shine the vessel’s cruising speed of 8 knots is prolonged to 7.5 hours. Lowering the speed to the so-called ‘break-even speed’ at 6 knots results in a 24-hour range and this is even throughout the night when there is no energy harvest from the solar array.