By: Scott Way
We spoke with BCI Marine President Patrick Hardy about their partnership with Aqua superPower and how the infrastructure needed to support electric boating is beginning to take hold
As the marine industry continues its push towards an electric future, the lack of infrastructure has been an oft-cited point of contention. Now, however, the first phase of its development is set to begin. BCI Marine, one of Canada's largest marine distributors, has partnered with Aqua superPower to install DC power charging stations in Ontario and Quebec. Locations will be announced in early 2022, and the first completed stations are expected to be in place by late May to coincide with Victoria Day weekend in Canada. The partnership is hoping to expand nationwide to support the electric boating market in Canada's most popular hubs, namely Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and the Eastern provinces.
The first phase will include installing a network of three stations in one of Ontario's most active boating regions, followed by another three stations in Quebec during a second phase later in 2022. According to Hardy, “Our first target is to get a network of three chargers installed in the same region. We just need to finalize a couple more details. The logic behind that is we want an area where people can plan a route, navigate, and they know there will be other charging stations so they don’t have to go around in a circle to make sure they can get back. So three charging stations within the network. I would gather they will be roughly 75 nautical miles apart. These numbers remain to be confirmed, but that’s what we’re looking at."
Each Aqua superPower rapid charger will be accessible via the Aqua secure mobile app or an RFID card, and will provide simultaneous DC charging up to 150kW. Once a viable network spanning a large area is in place, electric boaters can expand their travels and be confident there is equipment to support them. Hardy echoed this sentiment in a press release, stating "We know that for the electric boat market to truly launch in Canada, it's essential a conveniently available 'super charging' network be implemented to service these boats. We are proud to partner with Aqua superPower to begin building, and fast-tracking, a more eco-friendly and sustainable boating experience with specific marinas and destination points in Ontario and Quebec, many that have already been identified."
"These chargers are definitely a catalyst to electric boat sales. If a dealership or marina has a charger and sells electric boats, it becomes one equation," added Hardy.
Alex Bamberg, CEO of Aqua superPower, also noted the larger picture, stating that "as the electric mobility revolution continues to take hold on the roads and in the skies, the shift towards electrification is also gathering pace across the marine world. When you're asking a consumer to make a significant investment in an electric boat, you want to assure them they can have the charging that suits their lifestyle. The requirement for a joined-up network of reliable and fast marine chargers to create charging hubs and corridors for electric boat users is absolutely crucial if we are to secure the transition away from liquid carbon fuels. Our partnership with Aqua superPower, and their partners, will help fast-track marine electrification, in Canada."
The second network of chargers in Quebec is currently set to be installed in the Montreal region: "We have targeted another network close to the Montreal area. Quebec is the province that’s further ahead as far as electric cars go in Canada. Finland is at 90% electric cars, we’re nowhere near there, but Quebec is leading the pack for the provinces. So we cannot avoid that factor. Both provinces, Ontario and Quebec, are big producers of hydroelectric power, so it just makes sense to install them there. Chances are extremely good that we’ll have a second network of three stations installed in Quebec to help electric boats and electric boat sales," said Hardy.
BCI Marine was the first Canadian importer for the popular X-Shore Eelex 8000 electric boat from Sweden. X-Shore, and its emerging competitors, offer increasingly viable electric boats with range and performance features competitive with their gas-powered counterparts. In fact, the growing popularity of X-Shore has had a noticeable influence on new boaters entering into the marine world.
"The X-Shore Eelex 8000 was introduced to the Canadian market, by us, this past fall, and new electric brands will be launched, by us, soon," Hardy said. "Other electric boat builders will come to market too, so strategically, BCI Marine taking the initiative to introduce a 'marine' DC rapid charging point provider, and Aqua superPower specifically, was the right, responsible, and logical next step, for the Canadian consumer, and marine dealers."
In order for electric boating infrastructure to make a noticeable impact, Hardy is looking to partner with the government entities that oversee some of Canada's busiest boating routes.
"Obviously we'd love to get the attention of Parks Canada with this. We’re still seeing a lot of locks where you can dock overnight but don’t even have shore power. So sometimes we have 20 boats waiting at a lock overnight, and they’ve got gensets going. So I think Parks Canada has some catching up to do as far as setting an example. And I think this could facilitate that. These are commercial grade chargers, and I think along the Trent-Severn this is something that could really make a difference."