Whatever floats your boat: Denmark set to welcome ‘Green’ electric ships

Sales of electric cars in Denmark have plummeted after the introduction of new taxes, but the Danish government is now pondering changes in its legislation to promote the use of electricity-powered boats and ships in a bid to become more eco-friendly.

The Danish government currently plans to introduce a tax rebate for the use of electricity-propelled marine vessels, which is intended to spur both individuals and state organizations to “go green.” According to Tax Minister Karsten Lauritzen, the plan is to let ships with a displacement of below 400 tons partake of “cheap” power.

“It would be good for the local air quality if Copenhagen got more electric boats instead of diesel boats,” Stine Leth Rasmussen, a spokesperson for the trade organization Dansk Energi said. “However, it would also be beneficial from a climate perspective. Our electricity has never before been as green as now and we need to use more electric energy in general, particularly in transport. This would be a small step in that direction,” she said.

The city government of Copenhagen and local entrepreneurs are positive about the proposed legal change, and the tourist industry is reportedly also ready to embrace electric boats.

“If the law is changed, we can save about 20,000 kroner a year (roughly 3,000 dollars) on the operation of each electric vessel. This means that we get much better revenue out of converting diesel boats to electricity,” Mads Vestergaard Olesen, CEO of Canal Tours which operates cruises in Copenhagen, told the newspaper Dansk Industry, welcoming the changes.

“Firstly, it is a much better experience to sail around in a noiseless boat; secondly, it will boost Copenhagen’s already good reputation as an environmentally friendly city. And third, it will also benefit our businesses, by displaying forward-thinking solutions for their foreign guests,” Mads Vestergaard Olesen told the newspaper Dansk Industry.

However, Denmark’s experience with electric cars has hitherto been not as rosy as expected, as new taxes on electric vehicles, introduced by the government, have put electric cars back in the garage. In April, sales of electric cars plummeted to 24, compared to 145 in the same period last year. In the first four months of the year, 125 electric cars were sold in comparison to last year’s 711.