Our phones need to be charged from time to time. Boat owners have another battery to worry about, and that’s the marine battery of their boats.
Although there are no plugs or power cables in the middle of the sea, boat owners could solve their problem by accessing the marine equivalent of a gas station, which is exactly what Power Docks is providing them with. The company, which has offices and facilities in both Newport and Fall River, is developing floating islands called ‘Blue Islands’ where boats can get fully charged.
“We saw the need for boaters, like myself… to have on-site power.”
Behind Power Docks there’s a partnership between Anthony Baro, principal of seven-year-old renewable energy developing firm E2SOL, and Chris Fagan, who operates an architectural design firm called Fagan Design Build Studio. Both the ventures are based in Newport.
“We came together about a year and a half ago to bring sustainable renewable energy practices into the aquatic space,” Baro, who owns a 35-feet Pearson sailboat, said in an interview. “We saw the need for boaters, like myself, who keep the boat at a mooring field, not at a marina… to have on-site power.”
The product that Power Docks is designing and developing is, technically speaking, an ‘autonomous floating microgrid.’ These ‘islands,’ which come in different sizes, are able to store the energy they absorb from the sun, while they’re simply floating.
To get power, boaters need to come to the blue island platform and either moor or dock, and then connect their own cables to a power pedestal on the platform. Baro, who mentioned that energy can also be transferred via a wireless connection, estimated that getting a full charge may require anywhere between two and four hours, depending on how large is the electrical system of the boat.
This past summer, Baro said Power Docks partnered with the City of Newport to launch its first island. “All summer, we have been providing free electricity to boaters coming in the Newport harbor,” Baro said.
According to Baro, customers are boaters and mariners who own their own mooring, but also aquaculture farm companies that need on-site power, oceanographic instrumentations companies that need power to recharge their autonomous underwater robots and water quality remediation companies looking to monitor water quality, Baro explained.