E-boat taxis launched in Batam, Indonesia

“The advantage of electric boat is not only about less noise, but also reducing marine pollution and thus help us protect the ocean, an important resource. We hope that ADB and other partners will continue to support us to upscale the project and to benefit all the members of the boat owners’ cooperative.”
HM Rudi, Mayor, Batam, Indonesia

Photo credits: ADB

Shift to low-carbon maritime transport

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, relies heavily on its maritime transport, a sector that offers many opportunities for innovation to make it more accessible, affordable, environment-friendly and safe.
Batam, an industrial and transport hub and the largest city in Riau Islands province, is being supported by ADB’s TA 9420 Implementation of Sustainable Transport for All. With co-financing from the UCCRTF, a shift to electric-powered boats is being piloted in close cooperation with the city government, boat operators’ cooperative, and a boat manufacturer.

Two (2) e-boats were recently delivered, and the highly-anticipated launch on 5 October was officiated by the City Mayor of Batam, HM Rudi. Each of these boats was purchased through 50% counterpart funding from the boat owners themselves. With a passenger capacity of 15, each e-boat’s Cruise 10.0kW electric outboard motor is comparable to a 20 HP combustion engine with a 5,000 Wh Highperformance lithium battery. Normal charging duration is 8 hrs while they are berthed at the port in the evening. Fast charging stations (3-hr duration) with higher voltage are planned to accommodate the electrification of 125 more units which are owned by the members of the boat operators’ cooperative.

Previously these boat owners have traditional vessels that ply an average of 5 hrs daily and consume 45 litres of diesel. By shifting to electricity, it is anticipated that there will be less GHG emissions. Over a period of 6 months and via a GPS tracking system, further monitoring will be carried out by the TA to measure performance on usage, distance travelled, speed and power consumption.

The e-boat drivers were impressed by how silent the electric engine is compared to the combustion engine, so much so that they no longer have to shout to each other while sailing. Another advantage they expressed is that they do not have to worry about the fossil fuel allocation quota (2,000 litres/day for 125 members) which is normally insufficient from October to December every year.

This pilot project demonstrates that low-carbon transport options can improve local livelihoods and offer co-benefits. Furthermore, by agreeing to participate in the piloting, these e-boat taxi operators also agree to contribute to maritime security by reporting suspicious activities, collecting floating garbage and raising awareness on ocean health.

Key takeaways
• The maritime sector accounts for a huge percentage of GHG emissions. Shifts to change from fossil fuel use to other low carbon options need support to prove technical and financial viability, as well as to document co-benefits.
• Livelihood of boat operators is affected by climate change impacts, as they cannot ply their routes during extreme weather. Furthermore, their incomes, particularly those in cities’ whose economies are dependent on tourism, are affected by shocks and stresses such as the on-going pandemic, pollution, sea level rise, and coastal erosion.
• Small boat owner/operators appreciate the value of e-boats and willing to take on financial risks as they could see short and long-term advantages over traditional boats.

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Asian Development Bank - Transport

Supporting the development of low-carbon, safe, accessible and affordable transport systems for Asia and the Pacific. Follow for #sustainabletransport insights