Electric-powered 'luzzu' could offer lower emissions alternative for sea transport

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli and Education minister Evarist Bartolo were given a tour of the Grand Harbour on board an electric boat developed by the University of Malta’s engineering faculty

MEP Miriam Dalli and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo test the waters with innovative electric boat
MEP Miriam Dalli and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo test the waters with innovative electric boat

Electric-powered boats could help reducing emissions from sea transport, Labour MEP Miriam Dalli said on Tuesday.

Dalli was speaking after touring the Grand Harbour in an electric luzzu, together with Education minister Evarist Bartolo.

The luzzu was developed by the University of Malta’s Faculty of Engineering in collaboration with the private sector.

Both Dalli and Bartolo stressed the urgent need to address the pollution generated by maritime transport.

"More than one solution needs to be found for us citizens to enjoy cleaner air," Dalli said. "We have to address different modes of transport, including maritime transport. For this to be a success we have to promote more research and innovation."

Dalli is currently working on legislation in the European Parliament intended to reduce emissions from land transport.

Statistics issued by the National Statistics Office on Monday show maritime transport contributing to 15% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Dalli highlighted the different measures to reduce pollution from maritime transport, including the shore-to-ship systems (when a ship is berthed at port) and smaller boats, which operate on cleaner energy. With reference to the electric luzzu, she encouraged further investment towards innovative local projects that develop actual solutions.

"Smaller boats are widely used in Malta,' she said. "They're used as a means for tourists to sightsee our historical places from sea, for citizens and tourists crossing from city to another, as well as for fishing purposes. It's important to develop varied solutions that can address these different needs."

Bartolo said that the project represented an opportunity for researchers and academics to use their knowledge and their skills to develop typical products. "The next step," he said, is to commercialise this means of transport using cleaner energy for the sake of our environment."

Professor Joseph Cilia, professor within the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Malta, explained the latest technology used in the luzzu project, which enables the traditional boat to function with electric energy, such as lithium batteries and DT Brushless Motors.

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