The Bay of Geneva now offers a new attraction – Solar Boat Greta, a 25 passenger waterbus taking visitors to the foot of the city’s famous Jet d’Eau fountain using 100% solar power and electric motors.
The boat is an Aquabus 1050 from solar boat pioneers Grove Boats with 9 square metres (96 sq ft) of solar panels feeding an 8kW motor. The Swiss company also provides the solar boats for two of Lake Geneva’s most popular lake excursions: les Aquarels de Lémans in Lausanne and Le Foué by hélionaute, based in Yvoire, on the France shore of the lake. (The body of water is known as Lake Geneva in Switzerland and Lac Léman in France.)
Huge range of solar electric boat projects
Grove Boats is quite likely the oldest commercial solar boat manufacturer in the world. Under the leadership of CEO Guy Wolfensberger their management and employees have been involved in many landmark projects, including Project Sun21 (2007) – the first marine crossing of the Atlantic using only solar power – and Planet Solar Turanor (2010 – 2012), the first to circumnavigate the globe.
Their boats have been commissioned and put in use by everyone from a village on the Iracuobo River in French Guiana to the five star Bauer Palazzo hotel in Venice. Along with companies like solar ferry Aditya, Grove is also an ‘Innovator’ Member of the Solar Impulse World Alliance for Efficient Solutions.
They have also developed a mini solar powered marina skimmer (see video below) that collects floating waste between boats as well as a full size model that collects plastics, wood, polystyrene…and has an option for skimming hydrocarbons.
Their history shows off one of the important advantages of electric motors in boats: longevity and adaptability.
We wrote about the Felix de Azara solar catamaran Grove built for Expo 2008 in Zaragozza, Spain. It became a Paris tour boat on the Seine, then on the canals near Lyon, cruise boat in Paris, and then in the canals of Lyon, and is now being tested by the transit authority of Rouen as a commuter river shuttle.
Electric boats on the world’s best known waters
This addition to the Geneva harbour is another welcome example of how the world’s high profile waters and waterways are beginning to hold the standard for marine electrification:
- The Maid of the Mist ferry that takes visitors to the foot of Niagara Falls is going electric.
- Venice is testing restrictions on fossil fuel boats in certain high traffic sections of its canals
- The city of Amsterdam has mandated that traffic on its canals be electric by 2025
- the River Thames has its first hybrid pilot boat to guide larger (unfortunately oil burning) vessels into the city docks.
- and the SeaBubbles electric flying hydrofoil has completed its test as a water taxi service on the river Seine and may be approved for early 2020
Lots of good news, and it seems the electric boat revolution is just getting started!