Each of the outboard motors used by millions of professional fishing and water taxi boats emits every year as many GreenHouse Gases (GHG) as 20 cars. This is a whopping 0.5 Gigatonnes of CO2e per year from a virtually completely neglected sector.
Gempacs aims to revolutionize Marine Electric Mobility, starting from professional boat users in emerging markets. The company’s mission is to contribute significantly to the global efforts against Climate Change.
MOVE spoke to Corrado Accardi, CEO and Co Founder of Gempacs. Within this interview, Corrado touches on how the future looks for electric marine mobility and what we can expect from Gempacs in the coming months.
Q: For those who don’t know, tell us about Gempacs and what you do.
At Gempacs we are all about marine electric mobility.
We are a technology integrator, with a very strong team at the helm (and the pun is entirely deliberate!), capable of managing highly complex systems, building the charging infrastructure in ports, converting boats to 100% electric (or we can make them new as well), saving 15tons CO2e per year per boat. We target professionally-used boats (such as fishing, water taxi and tourist boats)below 5 Gross Tonnes or up to 12m in length. We install batteries and photovoltaic roofs,create an AI-enabled charging infrastructure in the ports and connect everything through an IoT management and mesh network-based geo-localisation software, which increases safety at sea.
We decided to start from Indonesia because of the size of the serviceable market, larger than the totality of the European markets combined in the segment we target. Moreover, there we can maximise our potential impact at environmental, individual, societal and national level, hitting 7 of the UN’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
Q: Do you feel, in the journey towards electrification of transport, that often the discussion around electric vessels is limited? If so, why?
More than limited, I’d say almost negligible. Pretty much all efforts in electric mobility focus on land-based vehicles. The discussion about the maritime implementation is limited to shipping. With tens of millions of smaller boats, the environmental impact and poverty cycles are evident. And yet the sector is not recognised as such because it is poor. And so the only attempts to electrify boats are limited to leisure boats in wealthy markets such as North America and Europe, which although a positive move, will still have very limited impact.
Instead, each boat used intensively emits as many GHGs as 20 cars every year: there is a relatively low hanging and low cost opportunity to have large impact. However, investors are still resisting the evidence and are following each other in looking for the next breakthrough technology, whereas the existing technology is already more than sufficiently efficient and affordable for immediateimplementation, especially in emerging markets.
Q: A huge amount of CO2 emissions come from vessels all over the world. What needs to happen for electric marine mobility to be adopted world-wide?
A concerted wake up call to investors to understand that there is an under- or, rather, un-developed sector and blue ocean market opportunity. Even if impact were a secondary or greenwashing consideration for some of those investors, there is money that can be made for their backers… and, most importantly for us, positive impact achieved on the side.
The current battery technology can be used straight away for the smaller boats, whereas shipping needs heavier duty approaches, such as hydrogen, which is making huge progress and is already being used successfully. But the port infrastructure, especially in developing countries, is challenging to say the least and investment will be required.
Q: GemPacs has been undergoing trials with prototype boats around Indonesia. How is this going and what are you hoping are the next steps?
To date we have made 5 boat prototypes in Indonesia. Two were water taxis and three small tourist boats (including at a Unesco reserve). Two of these used new motors, the others used ICE outboards converted to 100% electric.
I am just back from Indonesia, where we signed preliminary agreements with boat owners’ associations and co-operatives in Indonesia, the largest one covering 6,000 boats (in just one port). Most of these are suitable for conversion to 100% electric propulsion.
The next step is to raise a seed round and start a pilot project at a port, which we already identified, with the potential to convert thousands of boats and save well over 100ktons of CO2e per year for years to come.
Q: What can we expect to see from GemPacs in the next 12-18 months?
We expect to be able to announce quite soon the completion of our Seed round. The following step will be to start the pilot project and open create the first workshop locally. This stage will probably last up to 6 months, at the end of whichwe will start selling. Once we reach that stage, it is likely that we will aim to raise a Series A to help us grow quicker and expand into many more ports around Indonesia… and beyond.