Kochi is going to have India’s first solar powered ferry. The work is going on with support of Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD).
In 2013, the Kerala government started working in this direction, to find out an alternative fuel options for their passenger ferries.
NavAlt, a joint collaboration between the French company AltEn and the Indian company, Navgathi was awarded the contract to build these ferries.
Sandith Thandasherry, CEO of NavAlt says that as a part of Navgathi, they had been using renewable energy to fuel boats for a couple of years. “After many experiments, we realised that application of renewable energy in marine passenger transportation would be the best. We also realised that ferries were the way to go.”
The ferry is 20 metres long, 75-seater and is equipped with two electric motors, having a life cycle of 20 years. A 20kWp solar module array helps charge the lithium battery packs and it ensures zero pollution in the air and the water.
The main propulsion package has been brought in from France and the rest of the boat has been constructed in NavAlt’s Kochi yard.
“The cost of a normal boat comes up to about Rs. 1.5 crore and on this one, they would have spent about Rs. 2.2 crore. There is a Rs. 75 lakhs difference. In two and a half years, you recover the difference with what you save on diesel. Every year, the government can save Rs. 30 lakhs – even taking into account the grids for charging,” Explains Sandith.
In coming July, the Kerala State Water Transport Department will use the ferries to transport commuters along the 2.5 km-long Vaikkom-Thavanakkadavu route.