Solar Boat Company Drifts Into New York

Canadian start-up firm Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company announced earlier this month their plans to relocate production and general operations of their solar-powered boat, dubbed the Loon, from Ontario to Rome, New York. President of the zero-emissions firm, Montgomery Gisborne, stopped in Rome, NY as part of a solar-powered journey down the Erie Canal and found it to be an ideal location for production and shipping.

It was the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), however, that ultimately gave New York an edge over other competing states like Georgia and Maine. Under NYSERDA’s Product Manufacturing Incentive Program, companies in the clean energy sector can apply for a cost-sharing contract to help ease the burden of investment capital.

image via Tamarack Electric Boats

According to brochure specs, at 22ft long the Loon sits up to eight passengers and runs off a 48 Volt 8 x 6-volt AGM deep cycle, lead-acid battery that can charge off a 115 or 220 volt AC. Charge time is approximately six hours, which gives the boat roughly 50 miles of travel at around 7 knots. While the company is currently taking $500 deposits for those wanting to be in the first wave of owners, the total cost of the boat is expected to be an additional $32,000 at purchase.

Tamarack Electric Boats also manufactures a similar model to the Loon, a commercial vehicle called the Osprey, which is a pontoon design that uses solar panels to charge its two electric motors. The company expects the Loon to ship to consumers in late 2011.

While attractive in style and design, it will be a few more summer seasons before the success of the Loon can be determined, and whether or not consumers will be willing to pay almost double the standard rate for a used-model recreational watercraft of similar size.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.