There is no doubt that the transformation from fossil fuel propulsion to an alternative is quickly taking place. Many countries are taking the initiative to ban the sale of diesel and petrol (land) vehicles by 2035. Can boats be far behind?
The Galaxia Electric Boat Show in Lagos teamed up with Yachting Ventures to invite new marine-related ideas and promote clean technology solutions. This show was the second annual event, which took place between 12 and 14 May.
The BlueEconomy is the term used by the World Bank to describe the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.” Battery development is happening at pace. Lithium/cobalt batteries are already in use and the challenge is to make smaller, lighter, more powerful units. At the moment, you can’t run a high-load vessel at speed using batteries – the power simply isn’t there. Hydrogen fuel cell technology is being researched for large commercial vessels, but there are challenges – one is that hydrogen cells require more storage space than traditional fossil fuels.
The first day of the event showcased a number of key players in the industry. Then it went on to provide a platform for selected start-ups, in the form of a competition, to describe and pitch to a group of national and international investors who are experts in the field and who are actively looking for investment opportunities.
After introductions by the marina manager and CEO, Martinho Fortunato, the proceedings got underway with interesting commentary by Aqua Super Power. They can provide fully electric infrastructure in terms of shore-based supply, and they work with electric boat builders to ensure compatibility. Some boat owners argue that they can just plug into a home electrical outlet, but you may not want to wait three days. Marine outlets can cut your charging time to less than 90 minutes. Kempower owner Jesse Makkonen explained that the transition to electric power is currently accelerating, with more and more marinas and ports installing charging facilities. Torqueedo was another high-profile attendee displaying a large range of electric outboards.
SOMAR, an ocean conservation non-profit, provided a clear presentation. It concentrates on underwater acoustics and vibration that can impact marine life. Their mission is to protect sea life, particularly dolphins and whales and their habitat. As such, they are fully behind the electric revolution. The coast of the Algarve has recently been impacted by orca attacks on sailboats and the president of SOMAR, Rafaela Prodo, explained that this is under investigation with several possible reasons for orca interactions. Whale and dolphin watching is a major tourist attraction in the Algarve.
Marine watersports have seen huge benefits in lighter, smaller and more powerful batteries. This was evidenced in the start-up competition. E Dolphin, a French start-up, has an attractive electric jet ski modelled after the aqua-dynamic shape of a dolphin that can run at a modest speed for about two hours on a single charge.
Electro Nautic pitched their electric hydrofoil, Wave Flyer. The two-person pod looks comfortable and it has retractable foils for shallow water. The video looked impressive, albeit in glass-calm water.
Eco Works, a start-up that manufactures eco-friendly cleaning products, explained their mission to reduce ocean pollution. They have developed a range of products that use enzymes instead of acids. All the judges asked pertinent questions throughout the pitching process.
It was Level Hydrofoils, an Israeli company, that impressed the judges most. Their unique boards have extra facets that make them the best and most stable on the market. Normally a single strut hydrofoil is unsteady, but aero-space grade sensors integrated into the flight computer allow for instantaneous levelling and stability. This gyro stabiliser is fantastic for beginners and when you get the hang of it, you can de-activate them. For watersports providers, this is the one to seriously consider. The company advertises learning time – 60 seconds! Repeat riders are almost guaranteed. Founder and CEO Arthur Yanai gave an impressive pitch, which won him first place with the judges and likely investment into the company to fund further research and marketing.
Day two of the show offered boat trips (on electric vessels, of course as well as demos of acrobatic skills and live music on the stage all day. Local artists and artisans attracted a lot of attention and stalls were busy throughout the three-day event. The evening show’s star attraction was TobyOne.
The final day, Sunday, was Family Day, with SOMAR organising clubs for kids. There were lectures on eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability. Later, a fashion show wound up the events of the day.
With the success of the show, particularly the Start-Up competition, the Lagos Marina is looking forward to the next Galaxia event.