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IanD

Future of electric canal boats

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7 minutes ago, magnetman said:

I think it's quite eye-opening that Elon Musk the Tesla man calls the hydrogen thing "Fool cells". 

 

Seems he is a bit worried. Not very worried though as he is currently doing nicely selling cars to people. 

 

I went to a Tesco store today. 3 electric points all of them being used. A Tesla, a leaf and a mitsubishi phev outlander. 

 

And about a hundred other cars in the car park. 

 

Hmm. 

 

I would not call people advocating a hydrogen economy fools. 

 

Well, I suppose if I was committed to a lithium based battery energy supply system I might call them fools but it seems a bit foolish. 

 

Good for marketing though ;)

Just look at Nocola and see why Elon is looking smug, the ground breaking hydrogen truck was filmed rolling down a hill bec9it didn't work not good really 

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19 minutes ago, peterboat said:

Just look at Nocola and see why Elon is looking smug, the ground breaking hydrogen truck was filmed rolling down a hill bec9it didn't work not good really at all.

FTFU 🙂

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It's disappointing that in spite of having asked in my first post:

 

"I'd love to get comments about this idea -- and if you're going to find problems and pick holes in it, maybe you could try and find solutions to the problems instead of just naysaying?"

 

after four pages almost all the replies have either been naysaying with no solutions, or about cars/trucks/planes, or about where all that renewable energy is going to come from, or hydrogen power, or world politics, or why the canals are going to hell in a handbasket -- and hardly any have had any constructive suggestions at all in spite of me repeatedly pleading for this and to keep on track, which is why this has ended up in the political forum.

 

People seem more interested in complaining about how terrible this is all going to be and why [xxx -- fill in your choice] won't work or [yyy] is an idiot than actually coming up with ideas about how to perhaps fix things.

 

And there was me thinking that people on this forum might actually be interested in trying to come up with a way to make the canals better in future, how silly of me. I suppose it was to be expected, but it still saddens me 😞

 

[apologies to the few positive thinkers who've posted, but you're greatly outnumbered]

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2 minutes ago, IanD said:

It's disappointing that in spite of having asked in my first post:

 

"I'd love to get comments about this idea -- and if you're going to find problems and pick holes in it, maybe you could try and find solutions to the problems instead of just naysaying?"

 

after four pages almost all the replies have either been naysaying with no solutions, or about cars/trucks/planes, or about where all that renewable energy is going to come from, or hydrogen power, or world politics, or why the canals are going to hell in a handbasket -- and hardly any have had any constructive suggestions at all in spite of me repeatedly pleading for this and to keep on track, which is why this has ended up in the political forum.

 

People seem more interested in complaining about how terrible this is all going to be and why [xxx -- fill in your choice] won't work or [yyy] is an idiot than actually coming up with ideas about how to perhaps fix things.

 

And there was me thinking that people on this forum might actually be interested in trying to come up with a way to make the canals better in future, how silly of me. I suppose it was to be expected, but it still saddens me 😞

 

[apologies to the few positive thinkers who've posted, but you're greatly outnumbered]

I have encountered this all the way along, my boat does work for me and I have enjoyed the work involved in making it work, I am still planning improvements as somethings wernt done right first time around. 

If I was starting now I would do things differently, I would buy the motor that Richard at Finesse has developed, I would use the brand new lithium polymer batteries that I have used in my electric car, I would not however go any other way than solar as it works for me. I would maybe fit an LPG powered genny in it if I could find one but it would be a 48 volt one along with the inverter and no leisure batteries as it would simplify the system 

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4 hours ago, doratheexplorer said:

Point is, coastal craft are facing the exact same issue as inland craft.  Alan is right, we've more chance of being heard if we combine our numbers.

 

Couldn't they sail out to.an offshore wind turbine and just plug in for a quick recharge? 🤔🤣😂

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40 minutes ago, cuthound said:

 

Couldn't they sail out to.an offshore wind turbine and just plug in for a quick recharge? 🤔🤣😂

They all have diesel generators so it should be quite simple to leave an extension lead dangling down to plug into,

Service boats do go out and top up the generators most days

 

 

One of the basic needs of a wind turbine is the provision of auxiliary power, especially before it is connected to the onshore electricity grid. Power is required for cranes mounted on foundations. Once the wind turbine is installed, further power is needed to provide lighting, heating, clean air systems and to turn over sensitive equipment. Typically, this power is provided by small diesel generators; the London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, had a diesel generator located on each of its 175 turbines. If the connection to the onshore electricity grid is delayed then the diesels may need to provide continuous power for many months. The Riffgat wind farm off the German coast is fully installed apart from the grid connection, delayed for at least 2 years due to the discovery of munitions on the sea bed. This had led to unhelpful headlines such as “Windpark to nowhere … 22,000 litres of diesel burned each month to keep windpark from rusting away”.

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I've been mulling this one over for a while, if technology is moving on at the speed it has in the last 20 years I'm rather hoping :

 

1 solar technology will be more efficient than it is today.

2 battery technology will have higher energy density and faster charge times.

3 thermo electric generators will be more efficient, possibly water temp against air temp?

4 EM Energy harvesting makes it out of the lab (turning radio waves into power).

5 Pezio Electrical harvesting, particularly useful on a boat, especially on a river (turn small movements into power)

6 Electric motor efficiency improvements.

7 wind generators improve in efficiency

 

I'm sort of hoping that most if not all of it pans out and generating a fair amount of free electricity will a pretty simple affair...

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17 minutes ago, Quattrodave said:

I've been mulling this one over for a while, if technology is moving on at the speed it has in the last 20 years I'm rather hoping :

 

1 solar technology will be more efficient than it is today.

2 battery technology will have higher energy density and faster charge times.

3 thermo electric generators will be more efficient, possibly water temp against air temp?

4 EM Energy harvesting makes it out of the lab (turning radio waves into power).

5 Pezio Electrical harvesting, particularly useful on a boat, especially on a river (turn small movements into power)

6 Electric motor efficiency improvements.

7 wind generators improve in efficiency

 

I'm sort of hoping that most if not all of it pans out and generating a fair amount of free electricity will a pretty simple affair...

 

It's a nice wishlist, but I'm afraid quite a lot of it is magic woowoo.  "Ye canna change the laws of physics, Jim!" as Scotty said ...

 

I have often argued against the march of progress, because I'm not sure we've had a major step forward since the invention of the transistor in the 1940s, or possibly the integrated circuit in the 1960s (but that's really only a bunch of transistors stuck together, it's just a different manufacturing technique)

 

Making a faster computer chip is generally better manufacturing, not an actual redesign ...

 

So,

 

1) There's a theoretical limit to solar power harvesting on a silicon-on-glass circuit, and we are quite close to it currently.

 

 

2) Nice to think so, but none of the thousands of scientists who've been working on it for the last 20 years have managed to get there.

 

I can't be bothered to do the rest on my phone, but you get the idea!

 

 

 

 

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Given it was me who dragged this a long way off course...

 

I will be 59 in 2025 - I probably won't have bought a brand new narrowboat in that time

I will be 69 in 2035 - I might, possibly buy a brand new narrow boat between 2025 and 2035

I will be 84 in 2050 - I won't be buying a new boat after this, more likely I'll be hanging up my tiller pin. 

 

So, the question that will most interest me is - how much more will a new boat with electric propulsion cost over ICE in 2026 (I might treat myself for my 60th) and how much will the ICE knock off it's value when I sell it in my early 80's

 

Among the issues, I like the idea of local electrification, where electricity is generated locally by whatever means suits, it does however have the potential to be parochial - rather like parish road maintenance 300 years ago - the locality needs to benefit from generating extra electricity for the traveller. The local generation though protects from one big potential issue, and that is the grid going down. It will probably result in local pricing too - note 1st Ades comment about electricity in Jersey (on the other thread). However great big battery banks come with a warning, they won't be cheap, and I notice a LOT of comments promoting electric solutions assume that everyone affected can buy their way out of this problem, or at the very least that someone else is going to pay for it.

 

As regards other issues, think how much the world has changed since 1990, including boating, and that's how far ahead we're looking. Some of the issues may not rise because habits have changed or because they've stopped for other reasons. How secure will water supplies be by 2050 for example - no water would be far more problematic than no electricity. 

 

As for naysayers - If you propose a system that will disadvantage people, their response will tend to be "don't make the change" - those promoting the change need to work out how to solve the issues, or at least come up with some ideas to cushion the impact.

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12 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

As for naysayers - If you propose a system that will disadvantage people, their response will tend to be "don't make the change" - those promoting the change need to work out how to solve the issues, or at least come up with some ideas to cushion the impact.

I think there is a halfway house that meets both the zero emission targets and the requirement not to spend a fortune ripping out ICE engines and replacing with ??????????????/

 

I have quoted / suggested (a couple of times in this thread) the use of the

 

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.)'

 

'Drop-in' replacement for diesel & petrol, no investment in new 'engines', batteries or motors but at what cost per litre ?

You can buy a lot of Efuel for the £30k (?) it would cost to replace an ICE with a battery / solar system.

 

All 'new boats' could be built (from 2035) with 'new technology' zero-emission propulsion and all 'old boats' allowed to use zero-emission Efuels until they 'die'

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14 hours ago, IanD said:

It's disappointing that in spite of having asked in my first post:

 

"I'd love to get comments about this idea -- and if you're going to find problems and pick holes in it, maybe you could try and find solutions to the problems instead of just naysaying?"

 

after four pages almost all the replies have either been naysaying with no solutions, or about cars/trucks/planes, or about where all that renewable energy is going to come from, or hydrogen power, or world politics, or why the canals are going to hell in a handbasket -- and hardly any have had any constructive suggestions at all in spite of me repeatedly pleading for this and to keep on track, which is why this has ended up in the political forum.

 

People seem more interested in complaining about how terrible this is all going to be and why [xxx -- fill in your choice] won't work or [yyy] is an idiot than actually coming up with ideas about how to perhaps fix things.

 

And there was me thinking that people on this forum might actually be interested in trying to come up with a way to make the canals better in future, how silly of me. I suppose it was to be expected, but it still saddens me 😞

 

[apologies to the few positive thinkers who've posted, but you're greatly outnumbered]

Are you new to this forum??? 😂

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9 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

I think there is a halfway house that meets both the zero emission targets and the requirement not to spend a fortune ripping out ICE engines and replacing with ??????????????/

 

I have quoted / suggested (a couple of times in this thread) the use of the

 

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.)'

 

'Drop-in' replacement for diesel & petrol, no investment in new 'engines', batteries or motors but at what cost per litre ?

You can buy a lot of Efuel for the £30k (?) it would cost to replace an ICE with a battery / solar system.

 

All 'new boats' could be built (from 2035) with 'new technology' zero-emission propulsion and all 'old boats' allowed to use zero-emission Efuels until they 'die'

Indeed, and I recognise that - I don't regard you as either a naysayer nor as a bullish "it's happening, get used to it" type!

My personal position is I won't be ordering a new boat after 2035 and I won't be boating after 2050, in both cases as I'll be too old!

Edited to add, one thing that did get my goat was that others were dismissive of efuels, which strike me as a sensible solution. Ultimately everything is a half way house - 100 years ago steam locomotives were the rule on railways but electric and diesel traction was just getting going. Electric then had the same problem then as now - the infrastructure needed for a little used outpost

Edited by magpie patrick

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Sorry if it's already cropped up, but would it be possible to lay a cable along the canals and use inductive charging - as you go?

 

 

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13 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

They all have diesel generators so it should be quite simple to leave an extension lead dangling down to plug into,

Service boats do go out and top up the generators most days

 

 

One of the basic needs of a wind turbine is the provision of auxiliary power, especially before it is connected to the onshore electricity grid. Power is required for cranes mounted on foundations. Once the wind turbine is installed, further power is needed to provide lighting, heating, clean air systems and to turn over sensitive equipment. Typically, this power is provided by small diesel generators; the London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, had a diesel generator located on each of its 175 turbines. If the connection to the onshore electricity grid is delayed then the diesels may need to provide continuous power for many months. The Riffgat wind farm off the German coast is fully installed apart from the grid connection, delayed for at least 2 years due to the discovery of munitions on the sea bed. This had led to unhelpful headlines such as “Windpark to nowhere … 22,000 litres of diesel burned each month to keep windpark from rusting away”.

The new wind farms have the turbines connected to a local grid to do away with generators, apparently in some cases it was belt and braces that the generators were installed 

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32 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

Indeed, and I recognise that - I don't regard you as either a naysayer nor as a bullish "it's happening, get used to it" type!

My personal position is I won't be ordering a new boat after 2035 and I won't be boating after 2050, in both cases as I'll be too old!

Edited to add, one thing that did get my goat was that others were dismissive of efuels, which strike me as a sensible solution. Ultimately everything is a half way house - 100 years ago steam locomotives were the rule on railways but electric and diesel traction was just getting going. Electric then had the same problem then as now - the infrastructure needed for a little used outpost

I was reading last night on Google that many within the oil industry think that oil wont peak until 2040, however BP, shell etc who are the big players are already branching out into electric,  so it does seem that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. Another issue for the oil industry is that the futures market on oil was badly hit when oil hit negative value earlier this year, companies were wiped out by it.

Also how long can airlines carry on with the current trading conditions and plane makers must realise that the writing is on the wall for them?

We boat users really do create little pollution but we won't escape we will be collateral damage to clean up the air we breathe, we are just leisure users nothing we do is important unlike a lorry delivery of food 

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1 minute ago, peterboat said:

The new wind farms have the turbines connected to a local grid to do away with generators, apparently in some cases it was belt and braces that the generators were installed 

The East coast wind-farms have the service boats (with stonking gurt diesel engines) going out every day, and they normally have a big diesel tank on the deck for re-fuelling the windmakers.

 

It is a nightmare running down the inshore East coast, its almost getting to be non-stop wind farms.

 

This map is quite a bit out of date. (2014)

 

 

Offshore wind farms around the U.K., July 2014. This includes wind farms in operation (black wind turbines), those consented and under development (blue stars), and in the proposal and planning stages (red stars).

 

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8 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

The East coast wind-farms have the service boats (with stonking gurt diesel engines) going out every day, and they normally have a big diesel tank on the deck for re-fuelling the windmakers.

 

It is a nightmare running down the inshore East coast, its almost getting to be non-stop wind farms.

 

This map is quite a bit out of date. (2014)

 

 

Offshore wind farms around the U.K., July 2014. This includes wind farms in operation (black wind turbines), those consented and under development (blue stars), and in the proposal and planning stages (red stars).

 

And their is much more to come Alan 

  • Horror 1

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At a tangent .....................

 

 

Lack of wind sparks National Grid energy alert

The electricity system operator said "unusually low wind output" had eaten into its spare capacity

The operator of Britain's electricity network warned late on Wednesday afternoon that low wind levels had forced it to search for emergency sources of power.

 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/14/lack-wind-sparks-national-grid-energy-alert/?li_source=LI&li_medium=liftigniter-rhr

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1 hour ago, Higgs said:

 

Sorry if it's already cropped up, but would it be possible to lay a cable along the canals and use inductive charging - as you go?

 

 

I suggested it in the other electric thread...

 

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17 minutes ago, Rob-M said:

I suggested it in the other electric thread...

 

 

Good idea ! They could also have a lane on the motorways devoted to a charging lane. All this current hype over electric vehicles is made a nonsense of, if the fossil fuel combustion engines can't be eliminated at some point. 

 

 

 

 

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21 hours 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 🙂

They may be good places to put them but not the only places. Some parts of the network are more sparsely provided with WPs which works as boats do not need to take on water every day whilst, as it stands, it will be needed daily for electricity. Also, the availability of a water supply is not the same as for electricity. Further, most WPs have very limited space which cannot always be readily extended. To accommodate the numbers indicated in other posts will involve finding new sites as well.

21 hours 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'.

 

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'.

But remember that you cannot decouple technology and economics - and eventually, politics. Just because something is technically possible does not mean it is viable. Remember the Wankel engine?

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21 hours ago, magnetman said:

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. 

 

So, coming down the south Oxford, boats would have to turn around at Nell Bridge Lock?

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20 hours ago, IanD said:

<sigh> If I have to say again that hydrogen is half as efficient as batteries as a way of storing energy (which is all it is) I'll go mad... 😞

 

There will be a place for hydrogen (or something similar) in cases where batteries can't deliver the required power/energy/range or weigh too much or recharging is impossible, including planes and ships and longer-range seagoing vessels generally. Long-distance trucks might also fall into this group, though Elon Musk thinks otherwise and he's not stupid. Cars and narrowboats definitely don't, batteries are the right solution for these -- which is why the entire car industry is going this way, hydrogen and fuel cells have effectively been discarded for cars.

 

Hydrogen is emphatically *not* easy to distribute or store or fill up from, it's hideous and expensive to deal with -- nobody would adopt this unless they didn't have a choice.

I suspect today's H&S would throw a fit if petrol stations were proposed now as something new!

20 hours ago, magpie patrick said:

No, but he is obsessed with the idea that battery power can solve everything, and that may be blinding him to situations when it doesn't really work, So are some people on this forum)

 

"if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail"

 

Much of this is trying to solve problems that are created by the switch to electricty but are not created by hydrogen fuel cells, biodiesel or what have you. ICE's are not a paricularlu efficient way of consuming energy, but they are a very convenient way of doing it, and people will pay a big price for that convenience, bigger than you think.

I'd suggest it's only the right solution for boats because boats tend to use old fashioned car technology, the market isn't big enough for "boat technology" - I'm interested to see how we're going to get charging points across the network when much of it is a struggle to get a water tap (or even a phone signal). 

As I have said before, the best thing is to track what is happening with freight trucks. After all, canal engines are simply trucks engines with marinisation.

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