The Jan van Riebeeck boat is not new to the canals, but its drive system is. With an electric engine and batteries, the canal boat has now been given a second, ‘zero emission’ lease of life, with which it fully meets the standards of tomorrow. In 2025, all boats on the canal must be emission-free, and the conversion of the Jan van Riebeeck shows that this is also possible with existing boats.
“You should not scrap good boats but upgrade them. The Jan van Riebeeck has been sailing for years and is one of those beautiful classic boats on the canal. We have therefore kept the hull, but everything under the engine cover is now ultramodern: the boat sails completely emission-free and silently. That is an example of the ‘circular economy’ that we at Canal Company fully embrace. For 30 years, our motto has been to enjoy Amsterdam at its best, in the most sustainable way possible. We started out with the canal bike driven by muscle power, followed by the Canal Bus on natural gas, electric sloops, and the cleanest diesels of all; now technology has reached the point that the large boats can also sail on electric,” says Felix Guttmann, founder and owner of Canal Company.
In the Jan van Riebeeck, Canal Company replaced the diesel engine with an electric drive and thirteen lithium batteries. This boat, dating from 1970 which can accommodate 80 passengers, can now sail for more than six hours and the batteries can then be fully recharged within half an hour, using a quick charger. It took about three months to convert the boat. The Jan van Riebeeck is the first canal boat to be converted by Canal Company. If this test is successful, the other boats - which now already meet the cleanest diesel standards - will follow within five years.