Eco-friendly Folkloric Explorer eBoat is powered by the Sun
When conducting educational cruises in remote areas, eco-conscious guides don't always have the option of charging their electric boat from an existing grid. The Folkloric Explorer eBoat was designed with that fact in mind, as it can reportedly be completely solar-charged.
Back in 2020, the Japanese oil tanker Wakashio ran aground on a coral reef off the coast of East African island nation Mauritius, spilling an estimated 1,000 tons (907 tons) of oil into the sea. That incident inspired local non-profit group SPES (Société pour la Promotion des Entreprises Spécialisées) to create the Folkloric Explorer.
Designed and built in Mauritius, the 8-ton (7.3-tonne), 35-passenger electric pontoon boat measures 10 m long by 5 m wide (32.8 by 16.4 ft) and has a draft of just 33 cm (13 in) – so it's unlikely to meet the same fate as the Wakashio. It has an aluminum superstructure set atop two flat-bottomed hulls. The latter are made of epoxy-coated marine plywood, and each consist of 12 sealed compartments.
Forty-eight flexible marine-grade 110-watt solar panels on the roof charge the boat's six 48-volt lithium batteries, which in turn power the two Torqeedo Cruise 10.0 TS electric outboard motors. SPES honorary director Marcel Lindsay Noë tells that at its cruising speed of 5 km/h (3 mph), the Folkloric Explorer can run for approximately 25 km (15.5 miles) on one charge – its top speed is 15 km/h (9 mph).
That said, Noë adds that at wind speeds of 15 to 20 km/h (9 to 12 mph), an attached kite can be used to pull the craft at 5 km/h, saving battery power.
Some of the eBoat's other features include a vertical axis wind turbine for powering the navigation, lighting and six-speaker sound system; an onboard composting toilet; an atmospheric water collector; and a net across the bow for skimming plastic trash off the water's surface.
Plans call for the Folkloric Explorer to initially be used for cruises in Mauritius' Grand Port area, wherein both tourists and locals will be educated on the region's history and the importance of protecting its ecology. And SPES will be commercially manufacturing the eBoat, for sale to other markets – it should be priced at approximately US$400,000.