Electric-powered narrow boats have started appearing in Worcester

WORCESTER has a canal and a river, both of which are used by narrow boats to travel all over the waterway network and looked after by the Canal and River Trust.

It is not so much a way of getting around but a way of life for those who live aboard their boats.

Despite being idyllic and peaceful most of the boating fleet runs on diesel. But more and more boats are fitting solar panels and small wind-turbines to provide electricity for on board uses.

This summer, a small experimental fleet of a mixture of hybrid, green-diesel and all electric narrow boats visited Worcester on a test run to show people what they can do.

They want to see what options are available to convert the whole fleet to zero carbon. One of the boats ran on hydro-treated vegetable oil which ran just as well as regular diesel but without the fumes.

Interestingly the photovoltaic solar panel even on a cloudy day generated 2.9kWh.

This was only a third of the total 9.7kWh energy needed to complete the cruise from Worcester to Droitwich, so it ran the rest of the way on battery power. Although it would not be able to power itself continuously, it can charge the batteries in between cruise sections.

Short cruise holiday boaters take continuous journeys and so would not be able to run on solar on its own, but residential boaters who travel in short stints could do this.

The regular boat cruise along a canal although peaceful and close to nature is still driven by the chug-chug of a big diesel engine.

The sound has its own allure to some. Those who have completely converted to electric find the cruise almost as silent as the serene passage of a swan and you can hear the ripple of the bow waves.

Unfortunately, so far, kitting out a 90ft narrow boat with all-electric kit is not cheap.

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