Kerala clean-tech firm launches technology to electrify new and old boats

George Mathew
George Mathew, CEO & Co-Founder, Yesen Sustain, said it is for the first time in the world that such solar and electric modular kits are launched which can be retrofitted with existing boats.

Kochi: A Kochi-based clean-tech company has launched electric modular kits for boats and other watercraft in a move in tune with the worldwide push for a shift to e-mobility.

Yesen Sustain, which claims to be one of the first clean-tech companies in the world, on Thursday launched E-Marine, a technology it believes will revolutionise the water transport modes. The E-Marine electric modular kits can be retrofitted with existing boats.

Clean-tech refers to any process, product or service that reduces negative environmental impacts through significant energy efficiency improvements, sustainable use of resources or environmental conservation activities.

George Mathew, CEO & Co-Founder, Yesen Sustain, said it is for the first time in the world that such solar and electric modular kits are launched which can be retrofitted with existing boats. "E-Marine will be a big leap for the fisheries and tourism industries across the world as the technology will help replace the existing usage of fossil fuels, mostly diesel," he said.

The technology has been indigenously developed by Yesen Sustain at its Kochi-based facilities with technical tie-ups with world's leading OEMs in the industry including Hyper Craft, Elco, Polarium, CETL and enArka.

Mathew pointed out that there is a big drive across industries towards electric vehicles. But a new EV leaves a bigger carbon footprint than an existing IC-engine powered vehicle. There is a question of affordability too for sudden switches and it is in this context that Yesen Sustain's R&D team focused their work on converting existing fossil-fuel-using vessels to solar and electric ones.

"It is not advisable to replace existing vessels before their normal lifecycle. When we do so, we create more emissions by disposing of them and for the resources to build new ones," he said.

E-Marine offers pre-engineered electrification and solar kits which can be retrofitted to existing marine vessels the same way people retrofit gas and CNG kits to petrol and diesel vehicles. "Compared to IC engines, the new technology delivers a quick ROI, is fast and affordable. It can recover the investment in less than three years," he said.

To a question on how the company was planning to market the technology among fisherfolk, Mathew said they were trying to make a tie-up with banking firms to make loans available to the needy.

According to the CEO, retrofitting of outboard engines can be done in less than two hours and inboard engines in less than 7 days. These are off-the-shelf pre-engineered solutions and meet the highest quality standards including optional approvals from IRS. He also said the kits come with liquid-cooled marine battery packs, for the first time in the country, to meet the harsh environmental operating conditions. In addition to these, multilevel safety systems ensure fail-proof safety to occupants and vessels.

The launch event also witnessed operational display of a range of new and existing water vessels fitted and retrofitted with the new E-Marine kits. Mathew also said E-Marine can be used for vessels ranging from 1 hp up to 2000 hp including fishing boats and houseboats used in the tourism sector.

For Indian operations, the company has tied up with shipyard partners including Samudra Shipyard and Matha Marines. Global marketing of E-Marine has been launched simultaneously in Vietnam for the Far East and in the UAE for the MENA region.

The CEO said according to available statistics, there are approximately 2, 54,000 fishing boats and around 5,000 houseboats and Shikaras in the state of Kerala alone. "As we all know, the marine industry is one of the largest of the pollutants and accounts for 2.5% of global carbon footprint,” he added.

Considering the enormous potential offered by COP26 restrictions, Yesen Sustain targets to achieve a turnover of Rs 150 crore in 2022-23 to be followed with a growth rate of at least 30 to 50% in the years to come. "Presently, there are no competitors in the retrofit sector and other than doing good business, we see a clean opportunity to serve the environment and mankind with this revolutionary technology,” he said.

Yesen Sustain is the only cleantech company in India to have built four autonomous solar electric boats - Surya in 2007, Sunrider in 2009, CIFT in 2015 and Inflatable Boat in 2016.

The launch event was attended by Jos Dominic, Co-Founder and CEO of CGH Earth; Jayan PP, Joint Director C-DAT; Jayaraman C, Energy Auditor; Dr. Jeevan Sudhakaran, CMD, Samudra Shipyard; Georgekutty Kariyampally, Lifeway Solar; Joy Jacob, Founder and MD, Matha Marine. It was also attended by the all-woman director board of Yesen Sustain including Sara Paul, Jasmine Thomas and Ann George.

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