A century after their first appearance, electric boats resurface
In May 2019, a Norwegian company SeaDream announced the construction of a SeaDream Innovation hybrid ship that can operate in traditional diesel mode or on battery-powered electric mode. In addition to diesel engines, the yacht will carry a large battery of about 4 MWh, allowing it to sail silently and emission-free for three hours without disturbing the surrounding wildlife. The company says the hybrid system will reduce both fuel consumption and harmful emissions. Built with a $1.8 million grant from Enova, an organization owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, this new luxury mega-yacht will be able to navigate ecologically sensitive areas, including the fjords along the North Pole ice edge. The batteries also provide an additional degree of safety, acting as a fuel reserve if the yacht loses the main engines.
SeaDream Innovation is not the only electric yacht under construction today. Another hybrid-electric cruise ship for Arctic exploration is about to sail, the Brim Explorer. With a capacity of more than 140 passengers, the catamaran will be able to sail on the battery for 10 hours and recharge in ports at night while switching to non-polluting biofuel if necessary. Electric working vessels are also on the horizon. Recently, the port of Oslo decided to replace its waste collection vessel propelled by diesel by an electric ship. It’s already been put into service.