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Honestly, this feels odd to me. I know a bit about electricity and a bit about safety, so I’m conflicted about this report from Clean Energy Wire:

“Electromobility is slowly gaining ground on Germany’s lakes and rivers as the proportion of electric boats used for recreation is now estimated at 2.5 percent of the total, compared to less than one percent three years ago.”

EVs on the water? Upping the odds of lithium batteries contacting water is definitely scary (check out the section of this video from 5:55 – 6:13). Granted, consumer uptake isn’t burning up the lakes (cue Smoke on the Water), but safety seems like a huge risk. It’s not just the batteries – you have to consider the water-side charging stations too. At least for now, there aren’t too many:

“Larger boats that use inboard motors need charging facilities at the jetty, which are lacking because installation is not financially worthwhile for port operators. ‘It’s a chicken-and-egg problem: the demand for electric inboard motors is low because there are very few fast-charging stations, and there are very few charging stations because the demand is low,’ [according to Karsten Stahlhut, managing director of the German Water Sports Industry Association].”

I understand applying low carbon technology to water sports. Having grown up sailing on inland lakes, I have no affinity for powerboats. Still, this is a bit shocking. Jokes aside, there is a serious message – as companies speed toward electrification (and perhaps other low carbon products/technologies), safety remains paramount. Products with a reduced carbon footprint that also kill or injure users are not just bad products, they are also a significant legal liabilty.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile