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Portorož, SI
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E-mobility in nautics

There is hardly a brand in the automotive industry that doesn’t offer at least one electric or hybrid version of its four-wheel drive concept. But what about electric and hybrid vehicles? Do all shipyards have at least one electric-powered representative or at least a hybrid offering? The answer is no. Shipyards, which in fact have little in common with the automotive industry, generally do not have a wide range of electric vessels. They are therefore niche products these days. Of course, the relatively modest offer is not due to a lack of awareness among boaters, but to the fact that many on-board solutions are still in their infancy. However, electric, hydrogen or other alternative propulsion certainly has a bright future in view of the increasingly stringent regulations related to internal combustion engines.

Electric vessels and equipment are becoming more widespread and sophisticated in the nautical industry every year. Thanks to more powerful batteries and, above all, the lifestyle of boaters, who typically live in a smart house and drive an electric car, they are becoming more and more desirable. Electric mobility must become, and of course is already becoming, a way of life. However, in addition to the many advantages, it is also worth pointing out certain limitations. Of course, this thesis assumes only the use of electric vehicles, not their manufacture and decommissioning, or the use and extraction of the increasingly scarce natural materials needed to make the components of electric vehicles.

At the moment, the electrical infrastructure on the coast for charging the batteries in vessels is still so scarce that it would be difficult to make a planned journey, as we can do with electric cars with timed stops, for example, with vessels. The big constraint for watercraft is the storage of electricity and thus the very powerful energy storage batteries that would be lightweight at the same time. As we know, weight plays a rather important role in vessels. In the use and development of electric vessels, it was soon realised that one of the major problems was the energy consumption due to the friction of the hull against the surface of the water, or the displacement of a large volume of water for navigation. All this requires large amounts of energy and the answer has been found in modern hydrofoil technologies. Especially when it comes to fun and leisure, the disadvantages of hydrofoils are practically non-existent. It is also interesting to see the thinking of the major manufacturers of internal combustion engines, excluding outboard engines, on how they imagine a future without their products. Their recently unveiled plans foresee that by 2050 they will no longer use fossil fuel engines. In any case, all efforts are being made to make the use of vessels more environmentally friendly, both for the environment and for users. It remains to be seen what the future of nautical activities will bring, but the time is certainly coming when we need to start actively looking after our vessels and preparing them for the coming nautical season. 

From the editorial team of Val nautika, we wish you all a smooth sailing.