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Ursula Lang |

Gliding through Venice - New electrically propelled tourist boat sets new standards



Venice/Italy. The City of Venice has joined forces with tourist boat operator Alilaguna and the shipyard Cantieri Vizianello in a new departure which is set to transform the propulsion systems used in the small boats which travel the narrow canals in and around Venice. With the “Scossa”, an electrically propelled boat designed to carry around 40 passengers, the lagoon city has come up with a new sustainable solution which aims to reduce both noise and emissions. The electric motor which powers the “Scossa” comes from Siemens. Plans already exist for additional boats using the same propulsion method.


In Venice, boats are as common a method of transport as cars have become in other cities. On the many major and minor canal routes which cut through the lagoon city, they are used as a vital method of transporting both tourists and the local population. With the “Scossa” project, Venice has now taken the bold step towards electrically propelled tourist boats, with a view to cutting emissions and noise pollution in the historic waterways lined by tall, narrow buildings. The operating company Alilaguna and the shipyard Cantieri Vizianello opted for electric motor technology from Siemens to build the “Scossa”, the first small craft of its kind.


Making no waves

The technology used, which sets new standards for all kinds of smaller water craft, has already been in existence in the automotive sector and has now been adapted for marine environments. The electric motor comes from the automotive experience. It’s a traction drive, adapted to the marine application but keeping the original small dimensions and bringing together the reliability requested by public transportation. The Elfa traction drives tailored into the Siship ecoprop application have been integrated into state-of-the-art LFMP batteries from Valence.

The power onboard comes from a Elfa 180 kilowatts (kW) permanent magnet synchronous machine or from the battery pack and feed the Elfa 180 kW propulsion motor through Elfa Mono frequency converters and Sinamics DCP converter.    

The batteries are stowed under the bench seats inside the boat and provide sufficient power for a tour of the Canale Grande through Venice’s popular historic center. The batteries are then recharged by a generator as the boat travels on routes located away from the center. In this part of its cycle, the boat is not 100 percent electrically propelled but switches to a “diesel-electric” propulsion system. Once out into the open lagoon, this diesel propulsion charges the batteries and is capable of achieving speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour, corresponding to around 16 knots. In the narrow canals of the historic center, the boat travels in electric mode at around five/seven kilometers per hour, in other words three to four knots. This allows the boat to glide completely noiselessly, without emissions and creating only minimal waves through the heart of Venice. “It’s like travelling on a sailing boat but is primarily a gesture of love for the city in which we live and work,” explains Fabio Sacco, President of Alilaguna. “We are presenting ‘Scossa’ as the vanguard of a whole new generation of boats, and we are just at the outset of realizing number two.” The “Scossa” is 15 meters long, a good three meters wide and is able to accommodate 40 guests.


Well on the way

“The use of sustainable solutions in the marine sector is already widespread in the cruise ship industry, while progress tends to be more sporadic among the smaller marine vessels. This is a small contribution towards sustaining the city we all firmly believe in, and marks the start of a drive towards the increasing construction of more environmentally friendly marine vessels in the future,” explains Fabio Sacco. “Thanks to the know-how and skills we’ve acquired over the years, we have achieved not only an advanced application in terms of technology,” says Giuliano Busetto, Country Division Lead for Digital Factory and Process Industries and Drives, Siemens Italy, “but one that is also safe and reliable. With this achievement, Siemens Italy is providing proof both of its engineering competence, and also its innovative capability as a driver of green and sustainable solutions.”




To achieve a sustainable reduction of noise and pollutant emissions, the city of Venice is looking to deploy electrically propelled tourist vessels in the future – the “Scossa” fitted with Siemens electric motors is just the beginning.

Its battery-fed electric motor permits the “Scossa” to glide along the Canale Grande and through the narrow waterways of Venice completely noiselessly and without harmful emissions.

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