The Alster river and lake are a popular destination for water sports in the Hanseatic city

Motorboats in Hamburg to go electric and carbon-light

Motorboats in Hamburg to go electric and carbon-light

The city will also offer subsidies for boat owners who lack the funds to replace or convert their vessel engines into electric ones

On 19 July authorities in Hamburg approved a new plan that will see all vessels travelling the Alster river and lake switch to electric motors in the near future. The plan envisions a mix of initiatives, including the expansion of charging infrastructure along the city’s berths and a funding scheme for converting diesel boats to electric.

The first concrete measures will come into force on 1 January 2025, while traffic on the Alster is expected to be completely electrified by 2030. Authorities estimate that, when complete, this move would save 900 tons of CO2 every year.

The initiative is part of Hamburg’s climate plan, as shipping causes significant carbon emissions. Currently, there are 240 permits for vessels with internal combustion engines in the Alster area.

A lot of organisations will need financial support

One of the main tools in local authorities’ arsenal for shifting water mobility towards sustainability would be to introduce an electric engine requirement for newly registered vessels. At the same time, permits for vessels with internal combustion engines would expire after an appropriate transitional period.

However, local lawmakers acknowledge that some people will be disadvantaged by this transition. In particular, according to a statement by the city, they have identified water sports participants and environmental organisations as the most vulnerable.

This is why authorities opened a funding scheme at the start of 2022, that can be used to convert combustion vessels to electric, or to purchase new boats altogether. The city is ready to fund 70% of the bill in conversion or replacement applications. At the same time, subsidies are limited to 10,000 euros per conversion and 17,500 per replacement.



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