Solarwave has fully embraced electric technology and is bringing it to fruition in a 62-footer, writes Dave Marsh
Barely a month goes by without a new all-electric car appearing on our roads. Tesla, Nissan, and BMW were among the earlier adopters, and one assumes that batteries have recently become very appealing to Volkswagen. So where are our all-electric motor cruisers?
Surely an almost complete absence of noise and vibration for those on board, and for neighbouring boats, plus zero emissions at the point of use is appealing to us all?
There are numerous small craft around, but given that even a couple of the tiny 80kW (107hp) electric motors in a Nissan Leaf would be powerful enough to push the average 60-footer at displacement speeds, why has nobody produced a big, all-electric cruiser?
Well, finally, a pioneering Swiss company has done just that. Solarwave is about to launch its first all-electric 62-footer, the Solarwave 62.
Although it carries a diesel generator as a safety back-up (Solarwave quixotically refer to this as the ‘Range Extender’) the aptly named Solarwave 62’s vast 15kW solar panel array is designed to supply the boat’s entire electrical load on a day-to-day basis, motors and all.
We often report on innovative new projects in the making, and while they frequently look great on paper, only the bravest of souls would consider buying the first boats off the line because of their unproven nature. This project appears quite different.
For the past five years, Solarwave has had a fully operational prototype cruising far and wide. Half a decade is the longest gestation and testing period I’ve encountered for any new marine project.
And nor is the prototype solar boat a mini-me that could be squeezed on to a garden pond, it’s a 46-footer whose systems doubtless mimic those of the production boats very closely. So there should be few surprises when the boat and its systems are scaled up.
So the 46 test-bed not only has high load items on board such as air-con, a washing machine and a 3,000 litre/day watermaker, it also has all-electric cooking instead of gas.
The tender’s outboard is electric, not petrol. The Solarwave 46 even carries an electric motorbike, and how many 60-footers carry a motorbike of any type?