Going Electric Fast In Amsterdam

The authorities in the City of Amsterdam have decreed that boats with diesel engines will be banned from operating on the city’s canals by 2025 writes Dag Pike.

Amsterdam has around 550 boats of various sizes that operate on the city’s canals as tourist boats and the conversion of these boats is part of the city’s efforts to combat climate change. The transition to emission free amongst the commercial vessels is well underway, with 75% of the fleet on the city’s water already qualifying as emissions free, according to the city’s spokesman Wouter Keuning.

“Canal boats were a natural fit to go first. They are Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attraction and each is in use up to 14 hours per day, with 320 of them conveying nearly 4 million passengers through the city’s waters annually.”

Typical of the conversion work is that on the century-old Amsterdam canal boat Gerarda Johanna. Inside she still has the classic look with wood panelling, but beneath its floorboards lies a high-tech electric installation with 66 lithium ion batteries supplied by SuperB all connected to an electric drive train powering its propellers.

It would cost in the region of €1 million to build a new electric tourist canal boat, but owner Rederij Kooij, which is one of the city’s largest canal boat operators, is converting its existing fleet one by one as they come up for maintenance. This is adding between €50,000 to €150,000 to the normal repair bill which makes the conversion work economical. So far 13 out of 29 boats in the Rederij Kooij fleet have been converted.

The conversion work includes adding a remote monitoring system for the electrical installation and this allows the battery levels to be monitored from a dedicated control booth. The company has its own charging points and the remote monitoring allows the programme for each boat to take into account the state of the battery charge. The city is working with contractors to have 100 boat charging stations installed by the end of 2021, as well as a floating charging station launched by startup Skoon Energy this week, which is expected to help with grid balancing.

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