Press Releases

The First Freshwater Electric Boat Charging Network in the US

Michigan, US – 25thAugust 2023 - Aqua superPower becomes the first fastcharge network company to be awarded a grant under Michigan’s Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge. The company is to receive $111,000 in grant funding to install fast marine chargers and conduct technology demos at Michigan-based marinas. As the first Aqua network location in Michigan since 2022, Elk Rapids Marina hosted the Michigan E-Marine Event on 24th August, bringing together key players in the exciting and growing sector of electric marine. The event featured the largest demonstration to date of electric watercraft in the United States.

In April 2023, Michigan made the commitment to sustainable maritime mobility when Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge (FCMC), creating the first U.S. grant program to help companies decarbonize and electrify marinas and watercraft.

Open to all members of the public, Aqua superPower’s Michigan E-Marine Event was held to build awareness of electric boating, allow people to experience a ride on an electric boat, and demonstrate that the technologies and fast-charging infrastructure exist for boaters to make the switch to zero emission boating. The event was attended by legislators, funding agencies, electric boat-builders, marina owners, and charging operators in an event focused on showcasing the complete electric propulsion ecosystem.

Electric propulsion is a significant solution in the boating industry to reduce carbon emissions and protect coastlines and inland waters. With over 11,000 lakes, Michigan has the largest freshwater coastline in the U.S. and more than 800k boats registered, providing a tremendous opportunity to eliminate emissions by adopting clean, electric boating.

Even before the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge, innovators and state agencies were partnering in northern Michigan to establish the “Fresh Coast Corridor”, targeting a stretch of Great Lakes coastline from Frankfort on Lake Michigan to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron known as “the boating capital of the Midwest”. The FCMC focused on the same corridor in its first phase of funding.

Garlin Gilchrist II, Lieutenant Governor of Michigan addressed the event. “Here in Michigan we are blessed to see 21% of the world’s fresh surface water. Our Great Lakes are inland seas, supplying drinking water, recreation, and economic opportunity to hundreds of millions of people. When people think of water and entrepreneurship, they should think about Michigan.”

“That is why the Michigan E-Marine Event, bringing together stakeholders to build awareness for electric boating and to demonstrate the future of zero emission electric boating is so important. It builds on the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge, a program to electrify Michigan marinas and watercraft. In the budget the Governor signed this summer, we funded the Freshwater Research and Innovation Center in Traverse City. The Center is going to bring together researchers and entrepreneurs from the freshwater and autonomous space to show how we can and will lead the way in clean water efficiency and mobility. Governor Whitmer and I are proud of the progress we’ve made in the state and we’re just getting started.”

Lewis Cooper III, CEO of Elk Rapids Marina said, “This is our third summer since we bought the marina and we wanted to embrace the town and the environment. The first thing that stood out was the hydro electric dam across the way from the marina where all the truly green power to the marina coming from that dam got us thinking how do we take advantage of that. This is what set us on the path of representing electric boats, like X Shore and installing the Aqua superPower marine fast charger. What I like to tell people, no matter what you think about this whole thing of moving to electricity, if you have an electric boat, you are making the water clean. You are keeping the exhausts and fuels out of the water and there is no noise pollution. We were thrilled to partner with Aqua superPower to host the Michigan E-Marine event to promote electric boating. Having four different boats here for people to trial was a huge success and the overwhelming positive response we received was further proof that electric propulsion is going to be a major source of enjoyment for a large segment of Michigan’s boaters.”

State Senator John Damoose enthused, “When I first heard about electric boats, I started investigating and I must say, what is happening here in our region and at Elk Rapids Marina is amazing. If there is a location that should be the centrepiece of the electrical marine industry, it should be right here. We should distinguish ourselves as the marine and freshwater capital of the world.”

Charlie Tyson, Technology Activation Director for Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility &Electrification stated, “This is a really exciting day, there has been a lot of work done by so many in the community, the private sector, and our office is really trying to create private public partnerships that attract economic development opportunities, create environmental sustainability advancements, and support the workforce and talent. In creating unique assets that you can’t find anywhere else, that is how we achieve those goals. This is just the beginning, and we would not be here without Traverse Connect, the local economic development organisation leading the way, Elk Rapids Marina pioneering this. And state partners like Michigan’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and many more key state partners. I am really excited to be here today and thank you Aqua and Elk Rapids for hosting this important event today.”

“Our vision for the Grand Traverse region is to be the epicentre for the new electric boating industry – from hosting development and manufacturing of watercraft and charging stations to serving as the hub of a fully-functioning corridor for recreational and commercial boat traffic,” said Warren Call, president and CEO of Traverse Connect. “Electrification of the marine industry is at the heart of our growing Blue Economy, which will further diversify and grow our larger economic ecosystem”.

Alex Bamberg, CEO of Aqua superpower said, “Elk Rapids Marina’s partnership with Aqua superPower marked the genesis of electric boating in Michigan and catalyzed the formation of the Michigan Fresh Water Corridor—an endeavor we're honored to champion through our E-Marine Event. The Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge truly puts Michigan at the forefront of sustainable maritime transportation, and we are immensely proud for Aqua superpower to be among the first cohort to receive grant funding under this innovative program. We have been accredited for grant programs in the UK and now in the U.S., which reflects Aqua’s extensive expertise and credibility in creating critical marine charging infrastructure to advance clean electric boating.”

As part of the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) partnered with Traverse Connect to identify grant recipients and facilitate the distribution of grant funds, which will provide support for resources to establish what will become an evolving network of shore-side charging facilities for clean-fueled marine vessels and electric passenger vehicles operating on the Great Lakes. Six companies,including Aqua superPower, are the first cohort of recipients of $506,000 in total grant funding. Aqua superPower is already paving the way with chargers at Elk Rapids Marina and the Village of Northport, while plans for further installations at a number of neighbouring marinas are already in motion.

Leading electric boat builders Ingenity, Vita Yachts, and X Shore, provided test rides throughout the Michigan E-Marine Event to demonstrate how zero emissions and zero noisestill mean all the performance - whether used for recreational, sports, or commercial purposes.

Also present providing test rides of their vessels were two further grant winners of the Fresh Coast Maritime Challenge with Hercules Marine, a producer of electric drive systems and Lilypad Labs, a Michigan-based start-up, who will deploy highly accessible, solar-powered watercraft for public use at marinas and resorts across Northwest Michigan.

Michigan's maritime future has embarked on an electrifying journey with Aqua superPower playing a critical role in the transformation of boating from emission-intensive to emission-free, ensuring a sustainable legacy for generations to come.