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Why Electric Propulsion Is Set to Change the Future of Boats

The rise of the electric automobile industry in the 21st century has significantly increased awareness of the importance of transitioning to electric propulsion (EP) and sustainable renewable energies to power and repower boats and, by doing so, help preserve the waterways and the environment.

By using electrical power to drive propeller blades for propulsion, e-propulsion keeps on gaining momentum across the globe, in all boating activities, from recreational tourism to private boating. 

Electric Propulsion: A Natural Evolution of Motor Boating

Even though it might sound strange, electric propulsion in boats isn't an invention of modern times. On the contrary, similar to what happened to cars, it originated in the 19th century. In 1839, the German inventor Moritz von Jacobi designed and launched on the Neva River the first electric-powered boat in St. Petersburg, Russia, a 24-foot (7.3 m) vessel with a capacity for up to 14 passengers at a cruising speed of 3 miles (4.8 km) per hour. 

Throughout the following decades, boats suffered different changes in their propulsion systems that evolved from steam to naphtha, electric, and gasoline or diesel-powered engines. In 1893, at the Chicago World’s Fair, electric motors were considered safer and more maneuverable than other engines.

However, despite the early interest in electric water vehicles, the electrification of boats was soon forgotten. Due to the lack of technology and innovation, electric systems couldn't produce and store energy for proper operation nor deliver good performance on the water.

4 Ways Electric Propulsion Helps the Environment

With the "European Green Deal", the European Union is committed to carbon-free propulsion to help boaters transit into green boating. As of 2035, restrictive laws that ban the sales of new carbon-emitting vehicles will be in force.

Electric propulsion, especially solar-powered through the form of solar PV modules, is set to revolutionize the pleasure boating economy and how people use their boats. The electrification of motorboats is seen as a compelling solution to tackle the urgent environmental problems we are nowadays facing and protect our planet. Electric propulsion is environmentally-friendly in 4 different ways:

    1. No Noise Pollution

Acoustic pollution is a worrying problem. Many ports and cities are enforcing laws to prevent noise pollution from happening and significantly impacting public health. Among its many benefits, silent engines allow boat operators to carry out their favorite activities, cruising all day without generating above-the-water noise. 

     2. Emissions-Free

As electric vessels drastically reduce emissions generated by on-water activities, boaters can reduce their carbon footprint effortlessly when they operate their boats or leave them in a marina or port.

    3. Aquatic Life Conservation

Silent engines also produce almost no under-the-water noise and frequencies, which decreases the harm boating activities cause to aquatic animals and the environment. Under the water, noise is very disruptive: as noise travels fast, it ends up affecting a large number of animals, preventing them from locating their prey and predators and disturbing their natural cycles, including reproduction.

     4. Ability to Navigate Banned Areas

Cruising areas where combustion engines are banned or will soon be banned is only possible operating electric or boats with no inbuilt motor systems. A few examples are touristic locations such as the canals of the cities of Amsterdam and Venice.     


While environmental issues and legislation of this kind will most likely discourage some boat owners from owning a boat in the future, the entry of new sustainable boat builders into the market will counter this trend and help promote a sustainable boat life on the water. With the boating industry headed in the right direction and new EV vessel models launched each year, electric propulsion will be on the rise and, consequently, more within reach.

At Volta, we have a clear mission. Driven by boating and the environment, our greatest passions, we have created a company that offers boaters worldwide green alternatives to diesel and petrol engines. Together, we can make a difference. To learn more about our wide range of boats, visit our catalog.