top of page
Featured Posts

It's Not Just Cars Going Electric: Electric Boat in New York Portends Clean Future for Boat Trav

Just when I thought we only had to worry about the best way to charge our EVs when on a road trip!

Now, boat owners will surely need PlugIn strategies if Solar Sal, a 40 foot electric boat in New York, is any indication. Luckily, this vessel has a 5kW solar PV array which generates more electricity than the Torqeedo electric engines need to operate, even during cloudy days. At night the boat can cruise for 50 additional miles on battery power. Solar Sal was the dream of David Borton, retired professor of mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He designed the boat and built it in collaboration with a local boat builder and students from the Schodack Central School District in Castleton-on-Hudson, Rensselaer County, New York. The boat was constructed in space provided by the school. The process of building Solar Sal was incorporated into the school curriculum, creating unique interaction among students, faculty and the entire community

Solar Sal unloads 4 tons of cardboard to be recycled after a 650 mile trip on the Erie Canal. Photo via

Solar Sal can be designed to hold cargo or passengers. It can accommodate forty travelers or a 12 ton payload of goods or materials. One of several prototypes designed by David Borton, he envisions such boats being utilized for a range of uses including tourism to fishing, cargo delivery to recreation.

Electric boats, like cars, are increasing in numbers. This Green Advocate looks forward to clean operating, quiet transport options growing in popularity on water as it has on land. “Environmental Leader” reported in a post about Solar Sal that alternative fueling of maritime vessels is on the rise. And, the market for electric and hybrid marine vessels is growing.

Pictured above is a new unmanned vessel, launched with the help of Google, that will map shorelines and raise awareness of the impacts from global sea level rise. The high-tech boat boasts innovative technologies from the boatbuilding, propulsion and mapping fields. Photo via Torqeedo.

Boat life and culture has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the use of solar PV, wind, and living off grid. Now power boat motors themselves are going off grid. German-based Torqeedo and other companies are designing electric engines for a wide range of boats including small boats, sport boats and luxury yachts.

Check out the video below. If you are a future boat owner and don't think about going electric with your boat, you're not watching the same video as I am.

Text Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2015

Recent Posts
bottom of page