With the growing popularity of electric cars, trucks, busses, airplanes, and even motorcycles, it was only a matter of time before electrification hit the waves with everything from electric jet skis to solar and battery powered mega-yachts. Although at first glance it might seem that electricity and water don’t mix well, electric power actually found its way into marine craft early—submarines from World War I onward until the advent of nuclear-power have been driven by batteries and electric motors when submerged.
At the other end of the size scale, tiny electric trolling motors, powered by simple 12-volt car batteries, have been helping anglers catch “the big one” for decades. Meanwhile, deep sea bathyscaphes and remote and manned undersea vehicles have also counted on battery energy since the early days of the Alvin manned submersible, which was first launched in 1964. In fact, they couldn’t operate without the compact energy that batteries can provide.
Now, with the advent of reliable, high-capacity lithium ion battery systems, a variety of new and exciting water craft are benefitting from electrification. Some of these new designs are strictly for fun, while others are becoming low-emission workhorses that may point the way to a cleaner maritime industry.
Here we have assembled some examples of what is available now and what will be coming soon as the lithium ion battery technology developed for electric land-based vehicles is finding its way onto the water.
Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.
(Image source: Corvus Energy)