We tried out Repowere, a truly 100% electric vessel by Repower. Its strong points are its technological content and the efficiency of its propulsion system, with eight hours’ autonomy. Repower has launched it on Lake Garda, using a recharging network that really makes it usable. It is a working boat, but one that is aimed at the world of pleasure boating
by Luca Sordelli
EXPRESSIONS LIKE ZERO EMISSIONS, FULL ELECTRICAND GREEN POWER are widely used, sometimes correctly, but much more frequently incorrectly. Especially in the nautical world. There are those who invest in this area seriously and responsibly, but also a lot of people who have jumped on the bandwagon, and are “greenwashing”: they create a marketing strategy that builds an image which is intrinsically positive from an environmental point of view, even though there is nothing really ecological about the product or services that are being sold.
Looking clean can be very effective in terms of marketing, and the first people to adopt this line were the big oil companies. Whereas in the yachting world, offering a few miles or hours of electrically-generated range is enough to give a touch of green to a company’s image, and it doesn’t really matter if it is installed on a boat that is outdated in both design and construction.
But a firm that is taking an approach that is very coherent and cutting edge is Repower, a Swiss company that specialises in the sale and supply of energy sector services and is one of the top operators in renewable energy generation: it has six hundred employees and has been working in the electricity area for over a century.
It has been working in Italy since 2002, and it has now started out in the nautical world. «Electric mobility has already crept into the automotive sector, bringing a convergence of skills from different sectors like energy and the information and communication technology area to create new mobility solutions», said Fabio Bocchiola, Country Manager of Repower Italia «Nowadays the nautical world represents a new frontier in this area, and Repower is ready to give its contribution, presenting its vision of 360-degree sustainability».
The difference, compared with what has been seen thus far in electric power in the nautical world, is precisely this vision. Repowere, the boat that we tried at Sirmione is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind it there is a whole system that is designed to actually make electric mobility on water possible.
Let’s take a considered look at it. Repowere is a 10.5 metre vessel, which is three metres wide and can carry up to 21 people. It is powered by two 20 kWelectric motors and in the Luxury version (the one we tried) can be fitted with a 40-kWhbattery pack. The Basic model starts at 20 kWhand you can even get one that produces as much as 100 kWh. The batteries are made by Panasonic, and are the same ones used by Tesla: theyare isolated and housed midships, under the flooring and in a sealed compartment.
It is a vessel that was created first and foremost as a work boat, and it is no coincidence that the first use of the Open version was as a taxi at Sirmione, on Lake Garda, as is the fact that Repower’s nautical partner is Bertoldi Yacht, which is owned by a family that has been taking tourists around the lake since 1891. While their competitors, the other taxi-boats who work in the southern part of the lake continue to use “old” endothermic engines, they have decided to make the move to electric.
This has also been made possible because Repower’s vision doesn’t just extend to the means of transport – the boat – but also to infrastructure and the recharging system: in Sirmione harbour Repowere batteries can be recharged at both a Palina and a Bitta, a column and a wallbox respectively. «The recharging time from zero to a hundred per cent», Marcello Bertoldi told us, «is around six hours, but it is intelligently managed and that means you can use what they call a trickle charge, and so you can do a quick recharge while you wait for clients between trips. And going at top speed at five or six knots, the charge lasts for more eight hours sailing».
The quayside charging points don’t just provide electrons to people who want to go on the lake, but also to people with electric cars, scooters or bicycles. And the idea is to install more recharging points along the shores of the lake.
Repowereis designed as a work boat, and is aimed at companies that want to use sustainability to leverage their business. It is no coincidence that our test took place next to the Grand Hotel Terme, the five-star hotel in Terme di Sirmione, one of the top establishments on Lake Garda, which – not least because it has its own private pier – is a perfect example of how mobile electric solutions can be offered. Hotels, resorts and major restaurants would thus be perfect clients, but there are also places which would be ideal eco-systems for the boat: you just have to think of Venice, the Italian lakes and those in central or northern Europe, where the use of endothermic engines is banned for several months a year in large areas.
RRepowere – Cabin LUXURY version
Maximum beam: 3m
Light mass displacement: 3,100 kg
Full mass displacement: 4,500 kg
Building material: VTR with epoxy resin, processed by infusion
Electric engine: 2 x 20 kW
Batteries power 40 kWh (70 CV total)
Speed 7 knots
Maximum speed unloaded 12 knots
Maximum speed full loaded 10.5 knots
Max people on board 21
(Repower, it’seasy to call something electric – Barchemagazine.com – Agosto 2019)