CENTER FOR LEARNING ALLIANCE: Fundación Cotococha | Andes and Amazon Field School | Shayarina Amazonian Resilience
Solar Canoes Against Deforestation
This project is developing an affordable solar-powered canoe and recharging station for the Curaray river in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Affordable solar-powered canoes will revolutionize how riverine communities meet their mobility needs, disincentivize road construction and foster alternatives to the extractive model.
The electric canoe system is composed of a fiberglass canoe, electric motor, and will be powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. In order to reduce costs and materials we have retrofitted the outboard motor of a gasoline “peque-peque” (long shaft motor motor) with a 10kW BLDC motor. The retrofitting of the model retains the agile long shaft propeller system of the highly popular peque peque. Not only is this resource efficient, but it will be a design that communities are already familiar with. This ensures quicker integration into their lifestyles and minimizes risk. The two communities where the prototype will be tested are currently operating peque-peque gas motors.
Kichwa and Waorani mobility is tied to the use of gasoline-operated canoes, which are unsustainably mined at the cost of their lands, health, and economy. In most of the Amazon, motor canoes are the only method of transportation. However, these gas powered canoes are not sustainable. Most conventional boat motors emit nearly 30% of their unburned gas and oil mixture into the water. Meanwhile, most canoe operators add oil every few days to their engine, dumping used oil into the river in the process. Solar technology is advancing quickly for high-end recreational boats, and it can provide an affordable, clean, silent and reliable means for local river transportation and artisanal fishing worldwide.
The first objective of Solar Canoes Against Deforestation’s continued efforts is to acquire the necessary components to assemble the electric peque peque prototype. Once the prototype is assembled, testing along the Curaray river will be conducted to ensure the functionality of the design and allow for further design optimization. Once the prototype meets expectations and requirements it will be implemented to be used regularly by Waorani and other indigenous communities across the Amazon and beyond.