Exide Technologies has provided the power for the conversion of a fleet of motorboats on Lake Windermere. Alex Williamson, the manager for the project was responsible for converting 15 self-drive motorboats to electric, which is quieter, more reliable and cheaper to run than the old Stuart Turner petrol engines they have replaced. Alex plans to convert the remaining 25 self-drive motorboats as they become due for an overhaul. Alex comments, "People enjoy the tranquillity of the Lake District so electric boats offer all the benefits without the noise and fumes; not only have customer complaints reduced dramatically, but the environmental impact is minimised."
‘Windermere Lake Cruises’ operate a large fleet of passenger vessels including water buses, steamers, classic wooden launches, rowing boats and self-drive motorboats. Alex considered the benefits of converting suitable boats to electric power 8 years ago. Initially he investigated monobloc batteries – the type commonly used in cars and golf buggies, but he soon realised that they were not durable enough, so he opted for Exide’s vented lead acid batteries – the type used in forklift trucks and other materials handling equipment. Configured in a 12 cell arrangement, individual cells can be replaced if needed, but as yet Alex has not had to change any. Each boat is typically used for 6-8 hours in a day and is recharged overnight on an Economy 7 tariff, saving further money. After trialling one boat for a season, he decided to convert another four. Alex was convinced that electric was the way to go and has recently finished converting a further 10. He comments, "The lead acid batteries are used in conjunction with a Vetus electric engine and not only are they cheaper and more reliable, there are no fuel storage issues and related fire regulation requirements."
Alex now plans to convert each of his self-drive motorboats to electric as and when the engine in each boat becomes uneconomical to repair. He finishes, "As well as all the operational benefits, the electric engines are far less susceptible to downtime. They’re better for us as a company and they’re much better for preserving the tranquillity and environment in this lovely part of the Lakes."