Electric Canal Boats…the perfect EV ?


100 TW
Aug 3, 2010
Sydney ..(Hilly part !) .. Australia/ Down under !
This may be an ideal application for an electric drive package….an electric drive mobile home !
Canalswere one of the earliest forms of freight transport in the UK and Europe, .
Originally horse drawn, then through the usual power changes of steam, and ultimately xdiesel inboard drive systems.
Whilst their use for commercial freight is mostly past , there is a huge revival of the canal boat community as a recreational and even full time live aboard homes.
Diesel has been the default propulsion system for many years (100+ ?) but lately the advent of economical larger battery systems has enables a move to electric drive, frequently supported by solar on the extensive roof area of these traditional “long, narrow” boats
due to the speed restrictions on most canals (4-5mph) and the lack of strong currents or winds, very little power is needed , 2-5 kW being more than sufficient, which can often be provided by solar alone. Due to the large displacement of these boats , battery weight is a non issue,..limited only by finance,

I guess that is the advantage of the heritage of past industrial history in UK and Europe. Much of Europe (and UK) is criss crossed with man made canals and navigable rivers which are now largely repurposed for leasure boating.
Both private and commercial hire boats are common for holidays, whilst many folk live full time on these spaceous craft.
And, they are not all “traditional” designs…
It's not just leisure or habitation, the canals are the most efficient form of freight transport possible and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. That's mostly thanks to the low speeds, a 30-40 ton barge needs just 1 horse (power) to move at around 2.5mph and a roof area of 30+ square meters means they can be entirely solar powered even with the UK's poor solar conditions. It doesn't work directly unfortunately (I've been working on this one for a while), a barge covered in panels wont be able run 8 hours a day, 365 days a year unless it's so packed full of batteries that load space is limited but it works out very well with an overnight grid connection and enough battery capacity for a bit over 8 hours running, grid charged on dull days and surplus fed back on sunny ones averages out to a net surplus.