E-Mobility is among the most important issues in the industry at the moment and will be for years to come. The number of electric cars in the world accelerated past two million units last year, prices fell and sales increased by 60 % in 2016. But e-mobility is not only about cars. Markus Hoehner the founder of Eco Marine Global answered questions about his path to sustainability in his undertakings of the past 16 years and what lead to the promotion and sale of solar yachts and solar buses.
Mr. Hoehner, we are delighted to conduct an interview with you about new developments in the e-mobility sector. We want to talk to you about an exciting project, solar yachts and sea busses. You established a new brand called Eco Marine Global. Could you tell us a little bit about the beginning and how the idea came into being?
I’d be pleased. The formation of the idea can be described as a combination of emotional ethics and logical significance. Emotional, because it makes me furious to see the world’s resources being wasted while the technology that is already at our hands is not being harnessed; a logical significance, because marine e-mobility is just the continuation of all the fields of the energy transition, from only consuming renewable energy, over becoming a producer yourself and storing the energy, all the way to using that energy to charge your car – or even your boat. Let’s not forget at this point that we are not only talking about Solar yachts but also about clean marine transportation in the long run. Tesla brought their vision to the roads – we are doing the same on water.
In short, I would say, EMG was incorporated to reform the marine industry of the world with Solar Yachts and Solar Sea Busses which I believe is – apart from contributing massively to the mission of clean energy in general – the solution to the current marine life crisis.
Where can you place Eco Marine Global in regard to the other undertakings you have been initiating for the past 16 years?
When I look back, it all revolves around the decision to have found the Euro Press Service (EuPD Research) 16 years ago. I wanted to find a way to oppose the ignorance of how we were – and still are today – handling the world’s resources, especially oil. For me that way is, producing knowledge and sharing it. Thus, we started investigating sustainable markets and distributing the information we obtained to stakeholders all around the world. This project has grown and now incorporates all the fields of sustainable proceedings, from corporate health and talent management, over extensive research and consultancy on the renewable energy market, right up to communications know-how and “go-to-market” strategy implementation services. Eco Marine Global is an important project in our increasing portfolio to help companies, politicians and all other stakeholders to make the world a better place.
Please give us some information about the ship and its advantages towards conventional yachts.
Certainly the most important reason is clean energy. Yachts by Eco Marine Global run emission free, odourless and absolutely silent. The silent factor tends to be underestimated, but as the thumping of the diesel engines might be exciting at first, it will most definitely give you headaches after couple of hours or even days. And not only is a diesel engine loud, it is pretty toxic as well. The list of advantages of solar powered ships is overwhelming. You can take a solar yacht on a non-stop trip around the earth, while the solar panels are constantly charging the lithium-ion batteries for travel and all the luxury you need on board. In result the operational costs for propulsion and household are close to zero. Still the yachts reach the highest level of security and reliability by ensuring redundancy for every vital system on the ship. On top of that, compared to conventionally powered motor- or sailing-catamaran our yachts have significantly lower purchasing price and maintenance-costs.
Can the ship rely entirely operate on the batteries without resorting to a separate generator?
For the chances of no sunlight reaching the solar panels for days, there is an optional emergency generator and a Range-Extender which turns on automatically to provide power, which is sufficient to supply power to e-motors and household if necessary. If the generator is needed, it will not be used to rotate the ship’s propeller directly, but produce electricity to charge the lithium batteries. This system is much more energy efficient. So there is basically no possibility of running out of electricity. You can continue cruising throughout the whole night, if there is someone willing to stay up of course. Battery banks can store up to 6, 8 or 10 hours of electricity depending on size and number. Daytime cruising has an unlimited range as the power in storage is designed for night time usage. Again, that makes it close to no operational costs at all.
Are there plans for further models and projects in the direction of making the technology more suitable for the mass?
Of course that is the goal. We are on the task of actively promoting chartering, marine transportation possibilities right now. We named them Solar Sea Buses and the models SSB 55 and SSB 72 are in development. The prospects of clean maritime transportation are incredible. On the one hand you have the ferry concept, which focuses on a maximum amount of passengers and is perfect for big cities near water. The solar ferries would benefit the eco-friendly tourism as well as the inner city conveyance, while relieving the choked-up cities from emissions. On the other hand the Solar Sea Buses can provide a platform for company events, for instance shipping your employees along the Hafen City in Hamburg to the Elbphilharmonie to see a concert. There are many more opportunities and we are in conversation with city officials, governments and companies to promote our cause. There is a production capacity for 50 ships right now and we are expanding. Happily last year we sold a lot of ships. With a wink, we call ourselves the Tesla of the sea, and hopefully the growth will come accordingly.
Can you talk about the feasibility regarding the investment perspective?
To be able to make something suitable for more than just a small portion of the population, it is of course essential to consider the pricing. For the same initial investment the Eco Marine Global ships have the equal standard, quality and luxury as a conventional motor- or sailing-catamaran. The unique thing about our approach is that the maintenance and operational costs are almost a zero ( apart from batteries) . I know I am repeating myself here, but it’s a key factor when talking about amortization. Without having to pay for fuel and the high maintenance costs of the engine, the break-even point can be reached in only three years or less. And that is when you calculate with just 30 weeks of charter a year. The incredible amortization rate makes the chartering of solar powered transportation or leisure are tremendously beneficial investment.
Let’s talk a bit about e-mobility in general. What has got to change to make significant steps forward?
We must differentiate between false and correct information. We are trying to score with information to prevent false and counterproductive lobbying. I’ll give you an example: The average German drives 28 kilometres a day and believe me the average German knows exactly how far he is going to be driving the next day. For long distance travelling, which mostly doesn’t happen more than once a year, there are meanwhile many competitive car rental services. The advancement of the infrastructure concerning all fields of e-mobility has to be taken into account as well. Sadly the people that are opposing this fantastic new solution for marine transportation are still using the argument of missing range. Fortunately for us the research on solar yachts started way back in 2009 with its first 45ft prototype with our official partner Solarwave and we have succeeded.
Realistically, the world population could continue its consumption without giving a good thought on diminishing reserves for another 50 years, before the oil runs out. However, that’s not the only alarming issue which we have to face. We cannot forget about the emission rate, global warming, pollution and mass population. All I can think of right now is making early and right decisions towards a better future regarding all forms of life in the world!
Markus A.W. Hoehner, CEO and Founder, Eco Marine Global
Philipp Krüger, Assistant Editor, ees International
Image Source: © Eco Marine Global FZC | ecomarineglobal.com