Hoppecke batteries help make waterways greener

Industrial battery specialist Hoppecke is widely acknowledged for its expertise in logistics. Increasingly, however, its batteries are powering an ever-broader range of machinery, equipment and vehicles, including narrowboats.

Hoppecke is partnering with Isle of Wight-based Hybrid Marine to develop diesel-electric hybrid boat engines that improve energy efficiency whilst also reducing emissions.

Hybrid Marine has been designing and manufacturing hybrid propulsion systems for canal boats, commercial barges and sailing boats, including fast offshore catamarans, since 2002. It sells its award-winning technology to boatbuilders, supplying a complete solution for new custom-built boats. Hoppecke recently collaborated on Hybrid Marine’s 100th system with diesel engine manufacturer Beta Marine, subsequently fitted to a canal boat designed and built by Braidbar Boats.

Hoppecke has created a 48V lead acid battery pack, comprising 24 cells with a  capacity of 775Ah. When no mains connection is available, the battery provides sufficient energy to power all typical domestic appliances through a large inverter. Consequently, most craft can eliminate gas and implement an electric galley. The large battery bank also provides the ability to cruise almost silently for prolonged periods. One customer observed that “when the engine is running you are in a boat; when using electric drive, you are in the countryside”.

Says Hoppecke’s General Manager Stuart Browne: “We’re all more conscious of our impact on the environment so it’s no surprise that the boating community, including key industry stakeholders, is keen to reduce pollution across our waterways. Innovative hybrid drive technology offers significant economic and environmental advantages without denigrating people’s enjoyment of the boating experience.”

Using cells and other components from stock, Hoppecke builds and installs these special batteries at the boatyard. Hybrid Marine first connects the diesel engine to its hybrid propulsion system and then links this to Hoppecke’s battery before commissioning the complete engine.

Graeme Hawksley, Managing Director at Hybrid Marine, says: “With a hybrid drive the boat’s propeller can be driven by the engine using fuel, such as diesel, or stored energy from the battery bank with the engine stopped. When the engine is running the extra load of the hybrid generator makes the engine operate with higher efficiency, providing better fuel economy and less emissions.

“Once the batteries are charged the hybrid switches to emission free electric drive. Partnering with Hoppecke and capitalising on its expertise means we can clearly demonstrate how energy efficiency is enhanced during low to mid-power cruising, when the hybrid is running on battery power.”


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