Torqeedo, the global leader in electric boat motors, has delivered its 100,000th electric boat motor, a Torqeedo Cruise 10.0 Tiller which will run the tender auxiliary boat of a 34 metre superyacht. The Spirit 111 yacht itself is powered by sails and a 100 kilowatt Torqeedo electric boat motor system.
We wrote about the beginnings of Torqeedo in one of our Plugboats Throwback Thursdays. It was started 15 years ago when Dr. Christopher Ballin, a manager at the Gardena garden tools manufacturer, purchased a German summer property on a lake that had banned fossil fuel motors.
Electric boat motors had a humble beginning
When an associate with a doctorate in electric engineering looked at the existing options for electric boat motors, he suggested that Ballin and he could do something better. So Ballin (in the then and now photo above) and his friend Dr. ‘Fritz’ Böbel founded Torqeedo, which now manufacturers more than 30 different electric boat drives and has offices, dealerships and distributors on 5 continents.
“We’ve come a long way since 2005,” said Dr. Ballin. “Our first electric outboards for small inflatables and sailboats were rated at less than half a kilowatt of power. Now, with today’s motors, we have the technology for genuinely climate-neutral travel and transport on the water.”
Torqeedo Deep Blue 100kW can recharge itself
The Spirit 111 that is partly powered by the 100kW Torqeedo Deep Blue was designed and built to be one of the most environmentally friendly sailing superyachts ever created. All of the power-consuming components on the massive yet graceful and elegant wooden vessel have been carefully selected to be highly efficient and will use minimal energy without impacting performance or comfort.
The Deep Blue itself is a hydrogenerative electric motor, meaning it can recharge its batteries when the Spirit is sailing under wind power. Essentially, an electric motor is just an electric turbine in reverse: a turbine generates electricity when it spins, a motor consumes electricity when it spins. So when the ship is powered by sail, the Deep Blue’s propeller is set to be rotated in reverse by the flowing water, putting electricity back into the ship’s four 40 kWh BMWi lithium-ion batteries.
Dr. Ballin said “Loud, smelly diesel generators are obsolete or reduced to a backup role because sailing yachts can generate power themselves using solar cells, hydrogeneration, and wind generators.”
Electric boat motors now and in the future
While Torqeedo has been instrumental in popularizing electric boat motors largely for recreational boats, there are also big changes underway for commercial ships, ferries and even cruisers.
One of the most exciting examples of new clean technology is being demonstrated daily on the Energy Observer research boat. The French vessel uses no fossil fuels – just solar panels, wingsails developed from America’s Cup racing yachts, electric motors, batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells to travel around the world on a 3 year odyssey. It is currently (April 20, 2020) crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The hydrogeneration abilities on the Energy Observer mean that while it is under wind power, it can use electricity from the solar cells and ‘temporary turbine’ to separate hydrogen from the oxygen of the water it is travelling through. That hydrogen powers the fuel cells, which help drive the electric boat motor (when the wind is down) in a virtuous circle of zero emission navigation.
While the electric boat motor goes back to 1881 when Parisian inventor Gustave Trouvé took a battery powered trip down the Seine, Torqeedo has definitely been the company that is best known for popularizing and advancing electric marine propulsion in this century.
So what does Torqeedo’s founder see for the future?
We are confident that adoption will increase as our societies and economies move in a more climate-neutral direction. The number of sailing yachts, motorboats and smaller passenger vessels which are powered by electricity will continue to grow. Projects we’re working on now, like new advancements in battery technology and the possible integration of hydrogen fuel cells, will ensure that electric mobility is competitive in even more applications in the future.
One of the most significant challenges of the next few decades will be finding climate-neutral ways to maintain our mobility. We are working on it every day.