Transitioning from vehicles powered by fossil fuels to electric vehicles doesn’t mean we have to lose the classic aesthetic of old cars and boats. To see what we mean, just look to Amsterdam where the famous canal boats have been getting a clean makeover.
Building an entirely new electric canal boat would cost a million euros ($1.1 million), so boat operators are converting old diesel ships like the 1922 Gerarda Johanna into electric ones by installing powerful batteries beneath the deck. It’s a task that requires equal parts of engineering and artistry.
Rederij Kooij, one of the city’s largest operators, is converting its existing fleet one by one as they come up for maintenance, adding around 50,000 euros to a 150,000 euro repair bill. So far 13 out of 29 are done. With the ban diesel approaching, canal boats were a natural fit to go first. They are Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions, each in use up to 14 hours per day, with 320 of them conveying nearly 4 million passengers through the city’s waters annually.
Amsterdam says the transition to electric commercial vessels is well underway, with 75% of the 550 on the city’s water qualifying as emissions-free. The city is also 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, expected to help with grid balancing.