In another piece of good news around sustainable travel, the first electric tourist boat has been launched in Bruges. It's one of five boats that will ultimately replace diesel boats for five boat companies over the coming months.

Water reflection on the Dijver canal at dusk in Bruges
The Dijver canal in Bruges © myLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The first boat was recently placed by crane into the Dijver canal in Bruges, and it is 9m long and 2.2m wide. It is run by 20 lithium super B batteries housed in sealed watertight containers on the boat. The electric boats are quieter than diesel ones and cause fewer waves, which causes less damage to the quay walls. As they are run on electricity, they have no odour and don't generate emissions. The plan is that by the end of the year, the five boat companies in Bruges will each have one electric model in use.

Medieval buildings on Dijver canal, as seen from Rozenhoedkaai.
Five boat companies in Bruges will have an electric boat in use © Jason Langley / Aurora Photos/Getty Images

One disadvantage is that the boats are more expensive at circa €200,000 ($221,926), which is twice the cost of a diesel boat. Boatmen have charging €10 ($11.10) since last year per trip on the canals instead of €8 ($8.88) to help offset the cost of purchasing the boats. They will be made by North Sea Boating in Blankenberge and shipbuilding Vandamme from Zeebrugge. Another disadvantage is that a pilot electric boat has been sailing in the Bruges canal since 2010 and has encountered various issues, which could be off-putting for operators. They are also less experienced in dealing with problems that arise with electric boats, compared with diesel ones.

Tourboat on Dijver canal.
The electric boats will replace traditional diesel ones © myLoupe/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Tourism Bruges has come on board to support the project with financial support for the installation of charging points and the extension of the boat companies' jetties. In addition, the city council has extended the operating licence for the five companies by five years.

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