But a Swedish startup says its battery-powered boats can cut emissions while cutting journey times.

Candela has designed fully electric and carbon-free hydrofoils. The company says it sold more than 100 of its Model C-8, a 28-foot pleasure boat, within six months of its launch in August 2021. Its passenger ferries – unveiled on June 22 – are due to enter service next year.
Gustav Hasselskog, founder and CEO of Candela, says he was inspired by the electric car maker You’re here (TSLA).

“What Tesla has done is add a lot of style to electric cars. We want to create a very attractive product because it will accelerate the movement towards sustainability,” says Hasselskog.

defy gravity

Hasselskog has been passionate about boats for many years. Before launching Candela in 2014, he owned a conventional motorboat, which he says used about “15 times more fuel than our car”.

On a mission to build a greener boat, Hasselskog turned to century-old technology.

Airboats have wing-like structures attached to the underside of the hull. As ships pick up speed, these “wings” lift them out of the water, reducing friction and wake, allowing them to go faster and increasing the efficiency of the battery,” says Hasselskog. Made with a composite carbon fiber, the hull is ultralight, essential to make the boat “fly” on the water, he adds.

Hydrofoils have wing-like structures attached to the underside, which lift ships out of the water as they pick up speed. 1 credit

Other companies are also working on high-end battery-powered pleasure boats. bow boatscreated by former rocket engineers from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is releasing its 24-foot aluminum boat this summer, while another Stockholm-based startup, X Shore raised more than €71 million ($74.8 million) to ramp up production of its electric boat, which has a range of up to 100 nautical miles.

But Hasselskog says that because hydrofoils don’t make waves, it creates a smoother ride at higher speeds. “You have this sense of flight.”

A much bigger problem

Decarbonizing boating will not solve the shipping emissions problem. Globally, maritime transport generates around 1 billion tons of CO2 every yearaccording to the European Commission.

“The three biggest (emissions) producers are going to be container ships, bulk cargo, then tankers. Personal watercraft are generally the smallest,” says Elise Georgeff, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Electrification isn’t an option for large ships due to weight and battery life, Georgeff says, but shipping could take “multiple routes” to decarbonize, including using low-carbon fuels. low carbon, sustainably produced hydrogen or ammonia, or assistive technologies like wind power.

Small passenger ferries on short, fixed routes are, however, “Potential candidates to go electric,” she says.

This is why Candela is now expanding into commercial vessels. The company develops water taxis and ferries, which can carry between 6 and 30 passengers.

Candela says its hydrofoil ferries could cut travel times to Stockholm by more than half, where it will begin trials next year. 1 credit

Its first project is a 30-seater passenger ferry, which will be tested next year on suburban routes in Stockholm.

Optimizing existing ferry routes with hydrofoils could cut journey times in Stockholm by more than half compared to current schedules, as well as damage to wildlife and the coastline, said regional transport adviser Gustav Hemming. by water from Stockholm.

Candela says that because its ferries create almost no wakes, he received an exemption of the 12 knot speed limit in the city center waterways, allowing boats to reach speeds of up to 30 knots.

Faster ferry rides could divert commuters from ground transportation, reducing traffic, congestion and air pollution from cars, Hemming adds.

And although the infrastructure for charging electric ships still needs to be improved, Hemming says electrification in Stockholm is “developing very rapidly”.

Stockholm and beyond

So far, Candela claims to have raised 32 million euros ($34.3 million) in two funding rounds, iincluding €24 million ($25 million) from venture capital firm EQT Ventures Last year.

Going green doesn’t come cheap, however. The C-8 pleasure boat sells for more than €300,000 ($320,000), a price similar to other electric pleasure boats in the luxury market. However, operating costs are reduced by up to 90% compared to combustion engine boats, according to Candela.

Navigation enthusiasts are eager to join the electric vehicle revolution, says Hasselskog. In addition to the 100 C-8 models already sold, another 200 units are currently reserved, and its P-12 passenger ferry already has several orders from Norway.

Candela’s next big challenge is to scale up production to meet this demand: the company is moving to a new facility four times the size of the existing one and increasing its team from 30 to 100 people. The boating industry generally has a small scale of production, and much of the work is done by hand – but Hasselskog is exploring ways to add automation to Candela’s production process, with the aim of reducing the price of future models.

“(We want) to really bring the cost down, so we can move forward with combustion engine boats,” he says.