A sensible green future of boating

Published: Thursday, 22 July 2021

WE AT NABO, like most other boaters, have been watching the progression towards a greener future on
the canals with mixed feelings.

The National Association of Boat Owners tell we all want to do our part to improve the environment but we have to temper that with what is affordable and available for boaters of all situations, whether they be continuous cruisers or leisure boaters based in a marina.

Internal combustion engine

Nearly all the boats on the canal system use some form of internal combustion engine for aspects of life on board, propulsion, heating, cooking and electrical generation. Various hybrid systems still have diesel generation to top up their batteries when away from power points and all would be instantly made obsolete if a general diesel ban came into being.

All electric, the future of road traffic at present, is not in our view really feasible on the canals without a huge investment in the infrastructure and development to supply charging points. The same applies to theoretical propulsion systems like hydrogen and fuel cells. Added to that the cost of converting a conventionally powered narrowboat to all-electric (or hybrid) is high.

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil

With those considerations NABO is putting its support behind the adoption of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) as a direct cleaner replacement for diesel fuel. This is a second generation biofuel that is much more eco friendly than the mineral version and will allow conventional and hybrid boats to keep operating without substantial changes and investment by their owners.We also believe that solar could make a substantial difference to the emissions if all boaters incorporated it on their boats.