Friday, January 2, 2015

Electric Boats

Let's start the new year with something new: the B/F Sjövägen.

What's so new about it, one might ask? It looks like a standard archipelago ferry, perhaps with a fresh coat of paint.

The first clue is in the designator "B/F". Usually ships plying Swedish waters are "M/S" for a motor ship or "S/S" for the old-fashioned steamships.

In this case, the "B/F" refers to a battery-powered vessel. Yes, that's right, the Sjövägen is an electric boat! I read about it in the local Skärgården newspaper. The initial feedback is positive; like an electric car, it is quiet, and compared to a diesel engine, the ride is far smoother, and with none of the stinky fumes.

Right now, the Sjövägen's batteries can hold about five hours of charge. This will be its first winter on the ice. So for now, it will take only shorter, more inland trips. But the potential for such a vessel is huge, and I wouldn't be surprised to see many more in the upcoming years.

As an aside, it's not just boats that are joining electric cars in the mainstream. Airbus is demonstrating an electric plane which promises to operate much more quietly and environmentally than a current jet engine. With much of Sweden's electricity coming from renewable resources, electric vehicles are a great way to reduce fossil fuel emissions!

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