Showcase Amsterdam

Search for flexibility provided by electric boats in Amsterdam.

Case study: Electric boats

amsterdam_newsletter1The Amsterdam canal boats are number 1 tourist attraction in the Netherlands (over 3 million visitors a year). Given the large scale of boating, approximately 250 boats for commercial use (canal cruise boats an rental boats) and 14.000 small leisure boats (owned by citizens), the transfer to electric boating could contribute to the air quality in Amsterdam and to flexibility of energy use (smart grids) on the long run. The Amsterdam canal boats could potentially be an interesting energy buffer, consuming the energy during low demand hours or when local renewables are in excess. The scope of this case study was to estimate the potential of flexibility provided by electric boats.

What we have done

amsterdam_gridThe strategy was to combine theory based on reports by Waterrecreatie Advies and TNO (Centre for Applied Scientific Research), with input based on interviews with an electric boating company, Greenjoy, an aggregator company — which is authorized to trade on the wholesale market on behalf of a pool of customers — and an association for electric boating “Vereniging Electrisch Varen Nederland”.

We have analysed the following 6 scenarios using standard tariff as the base line scenario.

1. Local level: Optimizing battery charging process based on

  • a. day night tariff
  • b. day night tariff plus wind energy

2. On cluster level: Optimizing battery charging process based on

  • c. day night tariff
  • d. day night tariff, plus wind energy
  • e. wholesale market (APX tariffs)
  • f. wholesale market (APX tariffs), plus wind energy


The percentage  of financial cost saving on energy bill per boat per scenario.

The percentage of financial cost saving on energy bill per boat per scenario.

The case study shows that the batteries of the electric boats offer a great potential for flexibility, and could be exploited as part of a smart grid application. Local optimisation can be implemented without changing Dutch laws, however integrating wind energy can only be exploited in case the turbine is located at the local estate, and regarded as part of a private grid.

The cluster application has an even higher potential, being part of a grid balancing business case. However, we assumed, for the sake for the analysis, that clustering consumers and producers dispersed over the region would be an option. This is not yet the case yet, this option would be very important to enable exploiting balancing group settlement.

Technical issues
Based on the interview with our stakeholders we conclude that technical issues are not the show stopper of using electric boats as part of a smart grid. The electric boats are all equipped with an adequate ICT infrastructure that has enough functionality to support the implementation of a smart grid application (remote monitoring and control: real time remotely charging and discharging batteries). Chargers should be upgraded to higher charging currents, and for exploiting balancing group settlement be replaced by charge-discharge devices.

Contribution cost saving on energy bill due to exploitation  of flexibility.

Contribution cost saving on energy bill due to exploitation of flexibility.

Economic issues
The analyses of the different scenario’s show that there are viable business cases, using both local and cluster optimisation. However the big question remains whether the gain is high enough to cover possible extra investments.


  1. Investigate legislative options for associations in order to unite companies to organise a cluster, as one authority.
  2. Finding coalitions with network owners to integrate the battery capacity on the grid, by for instance integrating the batteries in or nearby a distribution station

Reports and more information



The Amsterdam showcase of e-harbours is currently focusing on canal cruise boats. These boats, that are immensely popular with tourists, are generally equipped with diesel engines that can have a negative impact on air quality along the canals. Read more in Newsletter #4 »

Nowadays, electric boating accounts for less than 10 percent of water traffic in the city of Amsterdam, but the share is rising. The Municipality employs different tactics to stimulate further growth, for example by giving discount through environmental licenses for electric boats: owners only have to pay half of the mooring-money. Read more in Newsletter # 3 »

Boating on the Amsterdam canals is a popular pastime, not only for the millions of tourists that visit the city. The city of Amsterdam wants to promote electric boating in the town, both for professional uses and for leisure purposes. Read more in Newsletter # 2 »


Pieternal Bakker, pieternal.bakker(at), City of Amsterdam


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