Electric Boats and Ships

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Electric boats and ships utilize electric motors powered by batteries instead of fossil fuel engines. They operate silently, emit zero emissions, and offer potential cost savings in the long run.

Impact on climate action

Electric boats and ships drastically reduce carbon emissions in the maritime sector, contributing to cleaner waterways and combating climate change. By replacing traditional fossil fuel-powered vessels, this innovation promotes sustainable transportation on seas and lakes, fostering a crucial shift towards decarbonization and advancing global efforts for a greener future.


  • Electric Propulsion: Electric motors, known for their high efficiency and torque, provide the propulsion force for electric boats and ships.
  • Battery Technology: High-capacity, marine-grade battery packs are crucial for powering these vessels, enabling extended ranges and meeting the demanding needs of commercial operations.
  • Battery Management Systems (BMS): Sophisticated BMS manage battery charging, optimize performance, and protect the battery from degradation in marine environments.
  • Charging Infrastructure: Building a network of charging infrastructure for electric boats and ships is essential for widespread adoption. This includes shore-based charging stations, floating charging platforms, and innovative charging solutions for larger vessels.
  • Hybrid Propulsion Systems: Some electric boats and ships incorporate hybrid propulsion systems, combining electric motors with traditional engines for extended range and greater flexibility.

TRL : 5-7 (Rapidly progressing towards 8)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Energy Density Batteries: The development of high-energy density batteries is crucial for increasing the range of electric boats and ships, especially for commercial vessels. This includes innovations in battery chemistry, cell design, and materials.
  • Fast Charging Solutions: Developing fast charging technologies for marine applications is essential to address range anxiety and support commercial operations.
  • Advanced Propulsion Systems: Researchers are exploring new propulsion systems for electric vessels, such as hydrofoils, which reduce drag and increase efficiency, and electric sail technology.
  • Integration with Renewable Energy: Electric boats and ships can be powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and hydrokinetic generators, making the entire operation more sustainable.
  • Remote Monitoring and Control: Utilizing digital platforms and remote control systems allows for more efficient operations, including fleet management, data analysis, and remote diagnostics.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Silent Electric Propulsion
  • Marine-Grade Battery Technology
  • Battery Management Innovations
  • Marine Charging Infrastructure
  • Hybrid Electric Propulsion Systems
  • Advancements in Battery Energy Density
  • Rapid Marine Charging Solutions
  • Hydrofoil Propulsion Systems
  • Electric Sail Technology
  • Renewable Energy Integration
  • Solar-Powered Boats and Ships
  • Wind-Powered Vessels
  • Hydrokinetic Generator Integration
  • Remote Monitoring Platforms
  • Efficient Fleet Management Systems
  • Data Analysis for Electric Vessels
  • Remote Diagnostics for Maritime Operations
  • Electric Ferries and Water Taxis
  • Electric Yachts and Luxury Boats

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Candela:
    • Technology Enhancements: Candela specializes in electric hydrofoil boats, utilizing cutting-edge technology to lift the boat above the water, reducing drag and energy consumption. Their boats are known for their efficiency and high performance.
    • Uniqueness: Candela’s hydrofoil technology sets them apart in the electric boat industry, offering increased speed and range compared to traditional electric boats. They combine innovation with sustainability, making electric boating more accessible and practical.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include recreational boaters, water sports enthusiasts, as well as commercial applications such as water taxis and ferry services where efficiency and low environmental impact are priorities.
  • Silent Yachts:
    • Technology Enhancements: Silent Yachts produces solar-powered luxury catamarans and yachts. Their vessels are equipped with solar panels and advanced battery systems, allowing for silent, emissions-free cruising.
    • Uniqueness: Silent Yachts stands out for its focus on luxury and sustainability, offering high-end yachts with minimal environmental impact. Their integration of solar technology and energy storage solutions enables extended periods of off-grid cruising.
    • End-User Segments: Their target market includes affluent individuals seeking luxury yachting experiences without compromising on environmental values. Additionally, their vessels could appeal to eco-conscious charter companies and resort operators.
  • Oceanvolt:
    • Technology Enhancements: Oceanvolt specializes in electric propulsion systems for sailboats and catamarans. They offer high-efficiency electric motors powered by batteries and renewable energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
    • Uniqueness: Oceanvolt’s focus on sailboats and catamarans distinguishes them in the electric marine propulsion market. Their systems are designed to seamlessly integrate with existing sailing vessels, providing a greener alternative to traditional diesel engines.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments may include sailing enthusiasts, boat builders, and yacht manufacturers looking to offer eco-friendly propulsion options. Additionally, their systems could appeal to environmentally conscious sailors participating in races and expeditions.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of Southampton:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Southampton are focusing on developing advanced propulsion systems and energy storage solutions specifically tailored for electric boats and ships. They are investigating novel electric drivetrain configurations, including hybrid systems and fully electric propulsion, to optimize efficiency and performance.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The research at the University of Southampton emphasizes the integration of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power into electric marine propulsion systems. They are exploring innovative approaches to maximize energy harvesting and minimize environmental impact, making electric boats and ships more sustainable and cost-effective.
    • End-use Applications: The electric propulsion technologies developed at the University of Southampton have applications in various maritime sectors, including passenger ferries, recreational boats, and commercial vessels. By transitioning to electric propulsion, ship operators can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations.
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Technology Enhancements: NTNU researchers are focusing on developing high-capacity battery systems and advanced power management solutions for electric boats and ships. They are optimizing battery chemistries, charging protocols, and thermal management strategies to enhance energy density, lifespan, and safety.
    • Uniqueness of Research: NTNU’s research involves collaboration with industry partners and maritime stakeholders to address the unique challenges and opportunities associated with electric propulsion in marine applications. They are conducting field tests and validation studies to assess the performance and reliability of electric boats and ships under real-world operating conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The electric propulsion systems developed at NTNU have applications in various maritime sectors, including coastal transportation, aquaculture, and offshore operations. By electrifying their fleets, maritime operators can reduce operating costs, minimize environmental impact, and enhance overall sustainability.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are focusing on developing advanced electric propulsion technologies for next-generation autonomous and unmanned marine vehicles. They are leveraging innovations in electric motor design, power electronics, and control systems to optimize efficiency, agility, and autonomy.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s research combines expertise in marine engineering, robotics, and artificial intelligence to pioneer new approaches to electric propulsion in marine applications. They are exploring novel architectures such as distributed propulsion and modular thruster systems to enhance maneuverability and adaptability.
    • End-use Applications: The electric propulsion technologies developed at MIT have applications in various marine missions, including oceanographic research, underwater exploration, and maritime surveillance. By enabling long-endurance, silent operation, and precise maneuvering, electric propulsion systems can unlock new capabilities for autonomous marine vehicles in challenging environments.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Electric boats and ships are already being commercially implemented in various markets. Several companies offer electric boats for recreational use, and the market for electric ferries and other commercial vessels is expanding rapidly.

  • Electric Ferries: Companies like the Norwegian company, Fjord Line, are operating electric ferries on various routes, showcasing the viability of this technology for commercial transportation.
  • Electric Workboats: Electric workboats are being increasingly adopted for tasks such as dredging, fishing, and surveying, offering quieter and more sustainable solutions for commercial activities.
  • Electric Sailboats: Electric sailboats are gaining popularity as a more sustainable and eco-friendly option for recreational sailing.