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Future of electric canal boats


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Could this be the way forward for those unable to spend £1000's on replacing engines ?

What price Electrofuel ? (you could buy a lot of Diesel at £3 / litre for the cost of £10k - £20k to replace your propulsion system)

 

 

 

There is of course the possibility that 'synthetic diesel' can be used as long as it manufacturing methods are 'correct'.

This is the next step from Bio-Fuels.

 

From the Government's Zero Emissions documents :

 

Efuels’, also known as ‘electrofuels’ or ‘synthetic fuels’ are ‘artificial fossil fuels’ produced using CO2 and water. In the form of artificial gasoline, diesel or kerosene, they can be used as ‘drop in fuels’ in an internal combustion engine. To be considered zero-emission, these fuels would have to be generated using renewable electricity and CO2 captured from the air. (Transport & Environment (2017) Electrofuels.)

 

The Pros & Cons of Electrofuels

 

 

 

 

 

Al Fin Energy: Electrofuels: The Best Way to Turn Sunlight to Energy?

 

Sweden is already considerably ahead with Electrofuels

 

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenrg.2017.00004/full

 

 

At COP25 in December 2019, EDF launched its report ‘Electrofuels for Shipping’, which describes how electrofuels can be produced for ships without emitting greenhouse gases over their lifecycle. The report, authored by Ricardo, shows how the production of zero-carbon electrofuels could drive investment in sustainable infrastructure onshore, especially in countries with abundant renewable resources. The report includes a detailed case study for Chile.

 

https://ee.ricardo.com/downloads/transport/electrofuels-for-shipping-webinar-materials

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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1 hour ago, magpie patrick said:

Putting my Romanian Charity hat on, in a country a lot poorer and with a much thinner population, and much greater concept of communal resources, I'd say Transport, especially rural transport, is a good use of oil as transport serving these areas isn't susceptible to economies of scale whereas cities are

I know what you are saying but the price of oil will only ever move upwards unless this virus takes a really serious turn and wipes out 4/5ths of the worlds population so the third world will get squeezed by the first world

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1 hour ago, The Happy Nomad said:

That is not he point he made.

 

Yes leccy will prevail BUT the issue is whether it will prevail within the time frames being published now. Completion/target dates set by governments for the completion of major projects are notorious for not being met. Crossrail/HS2 anyone??

 

I have no doubt the full electrification of both the roads and (staying on topic) the waterways will happen but absolutely not within the time frames being set out now.

 

Edit - Oh and just a reminder that no fuel is actually 'clean'. There is no such thing. All fuels no matter how they are generated have an environmental impact somewhere.

To put it bluntly we on boats will be collateral damage we are to small in number to have an effect and people are shifting over anyway not just me but people ordering new boats. If the government changes to 2030 for an end to new ICI vehicles and car makers like VW are planning for an earlier shift along with others we will just end up sidelined! It isnt important that we cruise for 8 hours a day its not like lorries delivering food we are just a lifestyle leisure group and count for diddly squat especially if CRT can point to significant numbers of electric boats already. As Ian says  its no good looking for why it cant happen look at why it will, on our moorings 3 boats go out regular out of 50 boats one third of those boats that move is electric and it probably does the most miles

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11 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Could this be the way forward for those unable to spend £1000's on replacing engines ?

What price Electrofuel ? (you could buy a lot of Diesel at £3 / litre for the cost of £10k - £20k to replace your propulsion system)

 

 

 

There is of course the possibility that 'synthetic diesel' can be used as long as it manufacturing methods are 'correct'.

This is the next step from Bio-Fuels.

 

From the Government's Zero Emissions documents :

 

Efuels’, also known as ‘electrofuels’ or ‘synthetic fuels’ are ‘artificial fossil fuels’ produced using CO2 and water. In the form of artificial gasoline, diesel or kerosene, they can be used as ‘drop in fuels’ in an internal combustion engine. To be considered zero-emission, these fuels would have to be generated using renewable electricity and CO2 captured from the air. (Transport & Environment (2017) Electrofuels.)

 

The Pros & Cons of Electrofuels

 

 

 

 

 

Al Fin Energy: Electrofuels: The Best Way to Turn Sunlight to Energy?

 

Sweden is already considerably ahead with Electrofuels

 

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenrg.2017.00004/full

 

 

At COP25 in December 2019, EDF launched its report ‘Electrofuels for Shipping’, which describes how electrofuels can be produced for ships without emitting greenhouse gases over their lifecycle. The report, authored by Ricardo, shows how the production of zero-carbon electrofuels could drive investment in sustainable infrastructure onshore, especially in countries with abundant renewable resources. The report includes a detailed case study for Chile.

 

https://ee.ricardo.com/downloads/transport/electrofuels-for-shipping-webinar-materials

To be considered zero-emission, these fuels would have to be generated using renewable electricity and CO2 captured from the air. (Transport & Environment (2017) Electrofuels.)

 

The problem is that there isn't an infinite supply of renewable energy and the balance of our needs is still made up from fossil fuels, and will be for a long time.

 

Making these "electrofuels" like this and then burning them in IC engines is about half as efficient as using the renewable energy to charge batteries, which means the extra renewable energy consumed is replaced by more energy from fossil fuels -- this is the reality, the extra renewable energy doesn't magically appear from nowhere.

 

If they're made using biofuels (how much forest do you cut down for this?) or microorganisms in reactors (will this ever be economical?) the position may be better, but they're still a way to let people hang on to diesel engines that should really be disappearing wherever possible -- funnily enough all these types of solutions (and hydrogen) are backed by the existing fossil fuel and distribution industries and engine/car manufacturers because it basically preserves their business model and the engines that burn their products.

 

It's very tempting (and easy) to do everything possible to preserve diesel engines by any means possible, but we really shouldn't be doing it if it carries on wasting valuable energy that could be better used elsewhere -- as I said the actual impact for narrowboats is negligible compared to cars, but it's often what you're seen to be doing that matters nowadays.

 

There is going to be a price that everyone (including boaters) has to pay for reducing CO2 emissions, because for cheap convenient easy power nothing beats burning fossil fuels, and society is hooked on this drug -- and like all wonderful addictive drugs, going cold turkey is not going to be easy...

 

Dammit, I've done it again 😞

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2 minutes ago, peterboat said:

To put it bluntly we on boats will be collateral damage we are to small in number to have an effect and people are shifting over anyway not just me but people ordering new boats. If the government changes to 2030 for an end to new ICI vehicles and car makers like VW are planning for an earlier shift along with others we will just end up sidelined! It isnt important that we cruise for 8 hours a day its not like lorries delivering food we are just a lifestyle leisure group and count for diddly squat especially if CRT can point to significant numbers of electric boats already. As Ian says  its no good looking for why it cant happen look at why it will, on our moorings 3 boats go out regular out of 50 boats one third of those boats that move is electric and it probably does the most miles

Which of course I didn't say.

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18 minutes ago, peterboat said:

I know what you are saying but the price of oil will only ever move upwards unless this virus takes a really serious turn and wipes out 4/5ths of the worlds population so the third world will get squeezed by the first world

That's what happens now, but as first world demand for oil falls in practice oil prices will fall - at the start of Covid they went negative

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37 minutes ago, phantom_iv said:

 

It occurs to me that why not standardise one existing vehicle charging technology, and install a 100kw charger at every water point. Assume power will run out at the same rate as water for the average boat, then you can do both 'charging' operations at once. That would be a good start without inconveniencing boaters too much.

 

You'd need a pretty massive battery to operate a fuel boat, however!

Yes water points would be a good spot for a rapid charger, I forgot about those.

 

Fill your tank at the same time you top up your batteries.

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2 minutes ago, peterboat said:

To put it bluntly we on boats will be collateral damage we are to small in number to have an effect and people are shifting over anyway not just me but people ordering new boats. If the government changes to 2030 for an end to new ICI vehicles and car makers like VW are planning for an earlier shift along with others we will just end up sidelined! It isnt important that we cruise for 8 hours a day its not like lorries delivering food we are just a lifestyle leisure group and count for diddly squat especially if CRT can point to significant numbers of electric boats already. As Ian says  its no good looking for why it cant happen look at why it will, on our moorings 3 boats go out regular out of 50 boats one third of those boats that move is electric and it probably does the most miles

If everyone involved (boaters, hire firms, CART, government -- yeah, right...) thinks and plans properly about how to make this work it could have a positive impact on life on the canals, not a negative one. On the other hand if everybody fights against it tooth and nail we'll probably get something appallingly unsuitable enforced onto the sector later, putting us in a much worse position than if we'd tried to help make it a success starting now.

 

What's certain is that this is like Covid-19 -- it isn't something that can be stopped, and if you put off trying to solve the unpleasant problem until it's too late you'll be much worse off...

3 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

Yes water points would be a good spot for a rapid charger, I forgot about those.

 

Fill your tank at the same time you top up your batteries.

Starting post of the thread: "The obvious thing then is to install these at water points, these are often in towns/villages which have mains nearby."

 

Yes it's a very good place to put them 🙂

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7 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

That's what happens now, but as first world demand for oil falls in practice oil prices will fall - at the start of Covid they went negative

The oil producers will turn off the taps to force the price back up again just like they did this year

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5 minutes ago, IanD said:

 

 

There is going to be a price that everyone (including boaters) has to pay for reducing CO2 emissions, because for cheap convenient easy power nothing beats burning fossil fuels, and society is hooked on this drug -- and like all wonderful addictive drugs, going cold turkey is not going to be easy...

Exactly, but the problem is actually worse than that - the impact is disproportionate. It's the rural farmer who's already tenuous business goes to the wall, not the city stockbroker.  

I could also argue that those promoting new infrastrcuture have a lot to gain, just as those who own the existing infrastructure have much to lose. The nut that needs to be cracked is urban-competitive recharging in out of the way locations. 

There is a paradox that road vehicles preceded canals and railways and eventually usurped them, in the process going from horse (and cart) to petrol car and diesel lorry, the reason the roads won out was the ubiquity of their infrastructure, especially in rural areas giving it the edge - if electric charging can't maintain that ubiquity then road transport, and rural areas, are set back

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9 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

Which of course I didn't say.

No, you just said it wouldn't happen within the timescales put forward because people won't like it. How about if a green-friendly government gets in, and driven by all the climate-aware younger people (not many on this forum, I guess...) the timescales are brought forward? It's happened with other climate/pollution-related issues...

 

Speculating/arguing about *when* is pointless, it could easily go either way. Why don't we focus on *how* ?

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7 minutes ago, IanD said:

If everyone involved (boaters, hire firms, CART, government -- yeah, right...) thinks and plans properly about how to make this work it could have a positive impact on life on the canals, not a negative one. On the other hand if everybody fights against it tooth and nail we'll probably get something appallingly unsuitable enforced onto the sector later, putting us in a much worse position than if we'd tried to help make it a success starting now.

 

What's certain is that this is like Covid-19 -- it isn't something that can be stopped, and if you put off trying to solve the unpleasant problem until it's too late you'll be much worse off...

Starting post of the thread: "The obvious thing then is to install these at water points, these are often in towns/villages which have mains nearby."

 

Yes it's a very good place to put them 🙂

I confess I didn't read it all......

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10 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

Exactly, but the problem is actually worse than that - the impact is disproportionate. It's the rural farmer who's already tenuous business goes to the wall, not the city stockbroker.  

I could also argue that those promoting new infrastrcuture have a lot to gain, just as those who own the existing infrastructure have much to lose. The nut that needs to be cracked is urban-competitive recharging in out of the way locations. 

There is a paradox that road vehicles preceded canals and railways and eventually usurped them, in the process going from horse (and cart) to petrol car and diesel lorry, the reason the roads won out was the ubiquity of their infrastructure, especially in rural areas giving it the edge - if electric charging can't maintain that ubiquity then road transport, and rural areas, are set back

So let's ignore the work companies like John Deere are doing on electric tractors, then...

 

(and yes they have disadvantages just like cars and boats, but they'll have to be dealt with for the same reasons)

Edited by IanD
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4 minutes ago, IanD said:

No, you just said it wouldn't happen within the timescales put forward because people won't like it. How about if a green-friendly government gets in, and driven by all the climate-aware younger people (not many on this forum, I guess...) the timescales are brought forward? It's happened with other climate/pollution-related issues...

 

Speculating/arguing about *when* is pointless, it could easily go either way. Why don't we focus on *how* ?

Can you kindly wind down the hostility a couple of notches.

 

I've posted a couple of posts about 'how'.

 

As much as perhaps you might not agree the 'when' is as important as the 'how'. Simply because the 'when 'dictates what technologies are available in order to facilitate the 'how'.

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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6 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

Can you kindly wind down the hostility a couple of notches.

 

I've posted a couple of posts about 'how'.

Sorry, I was getting annoyed because I could just see this degenerating into the age-old and unresolvable climate change argument all over again and you got caught in the crossfire.

 

You're right, you said it wouldn't happen in the timescale put forward, Peter interpreted that as you saying it wasn't going to happen, I then said why you might be wrong -- hey presto, ready-made argument about the wrong thing 😉

Edited by IanD
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It's funny how the canals were never intended for water based propulsion systems. They were designed to a land based system ie a horse. 

 

Perhaps you could put two moving tracks powered by elastic trickery in the canal and boats could have a hook they drop down to get onto the system. Like a miniature version of those traveling bucket things. It would be quite simple to arrange. It could even be on each side on stanchions rather than underwater. 

 

This would have an additional advantage of taking out the "he is going too slow/fast" issue, and the thorny problem of dredging. 

 

Simple small Kw rating pod motor mounted in the rudder running off lithium batteries for slow speed off-track manoovering purposes. 

 

Big diesel engine licensed only for river use. 

 

The best of all three world's. 

 

Direct land based propulsion efficiency, electric for maneouvering and diesel for doing the actual work. 

 

Edited by magnetman
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7 minutes ago, IanD said:

Sorry, I was getting annoyed because I could just see this degenerating into the age-old and unresolvable climate change argument all over again and you got caught in the crossfire.

 

You're right, you didn't say it wouldn't happen, Peter interpreted that as you saying it wasn't going to happen, I then said why you might be wrong -- hey presto, ready-made argument about the wrong thing 😉

The reason I would like to see it happen is partly the environment but also the boating 'experience'

 

I have only ever travelled on an electric river boat once (a trip boat) and it was a great experience to glide along only accompanied by a slight buzzing and the noise of the prop wash.

 

I think anybody who hasn't done this just might not appreciate quite what a pleasant experience it is.

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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1 minute ago, The Happy Nomad said:

The reason I would like to see it happen is partly the environment but also the boating 'experience'

 

I have only ever travelled on an electric river boat once (a trip boat) and it was a great experience to glide along only accompanied by a slight buzzing and the noise of the prop wash.

 

I doubt unless anybody who hasn't done this just might not appreciate quite what a pleasant experience it is.

Same here -- it would make the canals much more pleasant to travel and live on. But generators and running engines when moored to charge batteries would also have to go...

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There is a hire boat on the Wey which -i believe - has a pod in the rudder and a part time diesel generator. Seems to work alright. I'd like to know what pod it is they use if that's how they have solved the problem of electric propulsion. . 55ft NB. 

 

ETA the reason I think it is a pod in the rudder is the wire which goes round beside the fender. I have seen the boat close up and yes it is a wire not a rope and it goes under water towards the rudder. 

 

The great thing with this is that a pod motor is very quiet and you don't have to disturb any existing diesel install. The electric goes on as a completely independent arrangement. 

 

 

https://www.e-weynarrowboathire.com/

 

 

Screenshot_2020-10-14-14-21-10-960_com.android.chrome.png

 

Electric boats are something else. 

 

I am lucky enough to be able to spend most of the daylight hours of August in an electric canoe on the Thames which is completely silent and it is amazing. 

Edited by magnetman
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I wonder if any of the boat hire companies are seriously looking into this following the announcements? It would be nice to think that some were genuinely looking forward to the future and not sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it'll all go away or be so far away they don't have to worry about it...

 

I'd have thought that the first hire companies on the main canal network (not the Mon & Brec) to make this work (maybe they'd have to collaborate to provide charging points?) would find themselves not only 100% booked out but able to charge a premium for the boats, because 99% of hirers would really appreciate the lack of noise, vibration and smell. They would probably find they could then expand their business at the expense of the "stick-in-the-diesel" hire companies, because why would you want to hire one when there's a far nicer alternative?

Edited by IanD
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19 minutes ago, IanD said:

So let's ignore the work companies like John Deere are doing on electric tractors, then...

 

(and yes they have disadvantages just like cars and boats, but they'll have to be dealt with for the same reasons)

Methane is also being catered for but it means that animals dont see the light of day to capture and control the emissions from those animals. Mac a farmer in Auchencairn runs all his farm from this gas and will when tractors become more readily available do the same with them.

2 minutes ago, IanD said:

I wonder if any of the boat hire companies are seriously looking into this following the announcements? It would be nice to think that some were genuinely looking forward to the future and not sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it'll all go away or be so far away they don't have to worry about it...

 

I'd have thought that the first hire companies on the main canal network (not the Mon & Brec) to make this work (maybe they'd have to collaborate to provide charging points?) would find themselves not only 100% booked out but able to charge a premium for the boats, because 99% of hirers would really appreciate the lack of noise, vibration and smell. They would probably find they could then expand their business at the expense of the "stick-in-the-diesel" hire companies, because why would you want to hire one when there's a far nicer alternative?

On the Broads Hybrid Broads cruisers are available, they go out at a premium and have been fully booked when I tried to hire one, they are electric drive with solar and an auto generator, however charging points are readily available on the Broads

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2 minutes ago, Baldy1976 said:

Roughly 40,000 narrowboats in the UK ...........40,000,000 cars in the UK , I wish people would leave the so called "smelly noisy" narrowboats alone ......just saying.

 

 

I pointed that out, but you can bet they won't...

 

Anyway, how about those people on the canals who also don't like smelly, noisy narrowboats, and would rather have quiet electric ones instead?

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9 minutes ago, peterboat said:

Methane is also being catered for but it means that animals dont see the light of day to capture and control the emissions from those animals. Mac a farmer in Auchencairn runs all his farm from this gas and will when tractors become more readily available do the same with them.

On the Broads Hybrid Broads cruisers are available, they go out at a premium and have been fully booked when I tried to hire one, they are electric drive with solar and an auto generator, however charging points are readily available on the Broads

Burning methane from cows (even if it generates CO2) is better than just letting it into the atmosphere, it's a worse greenhouse gas than CO2. Probably better capture the CO2 as well though. Or find something better to do with the methane like act as a hydrocarbon feedstock, and use renewable power and batteries for the tractors.

 

Every bit helps, but you always have to look at the overall cost/benefit of doing something against the alternatives, not just how attractive it appears compared to burning diesel.

 

That's what I suspected about electric hire boats, glad you confirmed it. If charging points can work on the Broads then they should work on the canals, if only CART could be bothered... 😞

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