The Most Colourful Electric Boats in the World

Our Indian story begins in the north-west of that continent,  three decades’ ago in Udaipur, known as the city of the eleven lakes, the Venice of the east. Here  « Shriji” Arvind Singh, Mewar of Udaipur, Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, had a vision of Udaipur as a solar city. He initiated research that led to the development of solar power as a source of energy for transportation systems in Udaipur.

As part of this, in 1995, Electric Boat Association member and commodity broker, Malcolm Moss, built and cruised Solar Pichola, the world’s first solar water taxi across the historic 14th century lake of the same name. A small diesel engine boat with the capacity to carry up to five passengers was converted to operate off batteries powered by 8 x 50 Watt solar panels solar panels fixed onto the roof that sent the electricity to a single 12 Volt 60 amp hr battery that propels a small Minn Kota trolling motor. That boat now  operates on Gajner Lake, besides Gajner Palace, a Grand Heritage Palace of the HRH Group of Hotels in Gajner, Bikaner

Following the success of the Solar Pichola, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar approved the conversion of one of his tourist boats capable of carrying 12 passengers.   Malcolm Moss arrived in India with an Öco-Sachs electric motor based on a Lynch motor replacing the petrol engine of a conventional outboard.  The 14 x 70 Watt panels and electronics were supplied by AES Ltd of Delhi.  8 x 12 Volt deep cycle 65 Amp hr batteries store the charge and the RA II operates for 2 to 3 hours each day taking tourists to the spectacular Jagmandir Palace Island at Udaipur in Rajasthan.

2010: Atul Bajaj, then employed by the Yamaha – Al Yousuf boat manufacturing in Dubai took the bold and pioneering step of teaming up with his mother to form Dolphin Recreation. During the next twenty years, Atul and his 15-strong staff have built almost 100, sandwich-glass-fibre solar-electric boats for the Continent of India.

Solar boats can be balanced between surface area available for lightweight mono crystalline semi flexible panels and amperage of lead acid batteries- charging on the go. In some units we have also devised a spare set of batteries onboard via relay charge. For high power / water with flow we use li ion batteries

These come in all the colours of the rainbow. As Mr. Atul explains, “India is a colourful country and our boats too reflect the same. Our range of recreational solar boats have put eco propulsion within budget for the common man.”  Each boat seat costs $1,000 – so that for a 5-seater boat costs $5,000. This year they have launched a 10-seater solar boat.

The other shipyard in India seriously building electric boats is Navalt of Kochi in the south-west, whose smallest passenger capacity starts at 15.

Dolphin’s first colourful Solar Gypsy e-boats was built for Gaib Sagar Lake, located in the district of Dungarpur Clean City in Rajasthan, south of Udaipur. For this, they worked with IAAPI ( Indian Association of Amusement Parks & Industries). Gain Sagar is famous for its beautiful natural environment and various species of birds.  There is also  famous temple of ‘Srinathji’ near the Gaib Sagar Lake. In addition to the main temple in this temple complex, there are many small temples. One of these temples is of ‘Vijayaraja Rajeshwar’, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

With an aim to make Chilika lake a zero-emission zone, the State Government  decided to introduce solar powered boats in the lake soon. For the purpose, the Odisha Renewable Energy Development Agency (OREDA), west of Calcutta, has invited e-tender for design, engineering, manufacturing, supply, transportation, deployment of 20-seater solar electric boats, with zero emission including comprehensive maintenance for two years at various places of Chilika. Chilika Lake is a brackish water lake and a shallow lagoon with estuarine character spread across the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam in the state of Odisha in eastern India

Elsewhere, Dolphin boats are in popular operation from Venkatapuram Cheruvu village; in Yadamari Mandal in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh State, Bhavani Island in Vijayawada; Cruise rides from  Rajamahendravaram to Papikondalu  and boat house rides in Konaseema; Also on the circular Kanariya Lake in Aemedabad (5 boats);  Maharastra Rankala Lake on the western side of Ambabai Temple; Adventure Island , Delhi; Laknavaram Island Resorts , Telangana central India. They also operate lake Pichola in addition to supplying boats for the Oberoi Uday villas hotel. Not forgetting Lake Pichola where solar boating in India was born.

As for the future, Atul Bajaj comments« With many of the estimated 100,000 lakes across the Indian Continent going Eco, many boat builders are going electric, we at Dolphin are supplying them with imported motors such as Torqeedo , Aquamot, MinKota and modified Chinese Haswings.

On February 28th 2024, we launched the Indian Boating Association in collaboration with the Ship & Boat International Expo in Goregaon , Mumbai to ensure people go boating safely, and this includes the advantages of electric boats