New Partnership Model Brings Dutch Boats to San Francisco Bay

By Greg Kandankulam

Greg Kandankulam is the Program Manager for OrangeGoesGreen where he manages the organization’s projects and initiatives, program development and member relations. He is also a sustainability consultant and technology developer for Real NewEnergy where he combines his Presidio Graduate School MBA in Sustainable Management with his background in finance and power generation.

Jan 26, 2013 | Urban Sustainability | 0 comments

Creating public/private partnerships to advance a cause or promote a certain set of values is not a new concept.  While grassroots initiatives are crucial to getting sustainable development into our neighborhoods, there needs to be cooperation by multi-national corporations, government agencies and community-based stakeholders in order to promote real change on a global level.

OrangeGoesGreen

This is the mission behind OrangeGoesGreen, a non-profit venture, backed by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is a “private-public partnership initiative harnessing economic diplomacy, promotional activities and the transfer of knowledge between Dutch and North-American government agencies, knowledge institutes and companies.” Here in San Francisco, this initiative has been created to crystallize the best practices associated with stakeholder engagement and sustainable development.

OrangeGoesGreen is a member driven network of sustainability principled companies that provide the expertise, products and services that OrangeGoesGreen’s projects require. The value proposition that we offer is the stakeholder engagement and feasibility assessment of the projects we create for our members and local stakeholders. Once project parameters and roles have been agreed upon and established, we hand over the reigns of the project to the cluster of members formed specifically for an individual project as a “for profit” business venture. For our members, we create new international relationships they may have not been able to make on their own. For local stakeholders, we seek to provide access to new ideas and progressive technologies for a sustainable future. We see this as a model for how international sustainable development should be accomplished throughout the world.

The success of OrangeGoesGreen is derived from the technical expertise, financial strength and/or political influence of our partners. Our membership includes a wide variety of partners.

We believe that the development of new sustainable technologies and policies can only happen with the complete engagement of the various sectors we have listed.

I was at a recent Presidio Graduate School event with Gordon Feller from Cisco, Justin Lovitz of AutoDesk and Peter Graf from SAP. They all discussed their beginnings in urban sustainability. As Peter spoke about transformational change (government, corporate, societal, etc.), he said “You have to be able to talk with empathy, you have to understand what makes people move, and you can’t be afraid.” OrangeGoesGreen’s objective is to create a better world with lower impact frameworks and technologies, and we echo Peter’s sentiment.

The San Francisco Clean Boats & Bikes Project

A good example of an OrangeGoesGreen project is our electric water taxi, electric bicycle and renewable energy barge initiative, which we have branded the San Francisco Clean Boats & Bikes Initiative.

Rendering of water taxi concept

Rendering of water taxi concept

Electric mobility is a crucial step towards a low emission and fossil fuel independent future. Many transportation markets already see this as an immediate reality. Success stories in the Netherlands demonstrate convincingly that several electric propulsion applications are market-ready and can help to kick start the broader market for electric transport.

The electric boats and bicycles initiative benefit from all the features of electric transport yet they do not suffer from the technical (energy storage) challenges. This is due to a renewable charging barge component and the limited geographic footprint of the plan. Both electric boats and electric bicycles are proving themselves under real market conditions without any incentives, offering ease, financial savings, comfort, fun and potentially no emissions at all. San Francisco has the ideal positioning geographically, culturally and politically to accomplish an initiative like the Clean Boats and Bikes Project (SF-CBB).  We are convinced that SF-CBB will help enable a revolution in clean transport as these technologies have essential requirements to compete with existing conventional alternatives, such a combustion engines.

Rendering of barge concept

Rendering of barge concept

OrangeGoesGreen is in very positive conversations with several local and international partners to bring this project to fruition. In addition, we have met with the Port of San Francisco and the San Francisco Department of Environment. The initial vision of the project includes Electric Water Taxis with existing shore power derived from renewable sources. In keeping with the ideals of sustainability we are incorporating into this project the following possible combination of components:

  1. Electric Water Taxis with existing shore power derived from renewable sources combined with light Electric Vehicles (electric bicycles and scooters). The plan calls for integration for charging platforms for the light EV’s and a vehicle share program to allow that transport to be a feeder system towards water taxi landing sights. OGG has been in initial conversation with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Transportation division of the San Francisco Department of the Environment in framing this portion of the project.
  2. Electric Water Taxis powered by a Renewable Energy Barge incorporating multiple renewable energy sources in one platform. Renewable technologies would include marine hydrokinetics (tidal turbines), solar panels, small wind and power optimization technology that can handle these resources.

The design on construction of the water taxis will be a truly international collaboration with hulls designed in the Netherlands through our Dutch partners and built in the US. Drive systems and controls will come from the Netherlands as well. OrangeGoesGreen has solidified a relationship with a concierge water taxi operation, Tideline Marine Group. With the approach of the America’s Cup Finals to San Francisco in the summer of 2013, we see an opportunity to bring this much needed low-emission transportation to the city as quickly as feasible.

We see the SF-CBB project as a milestone in several arenas and we expect the fulfillment of this initiative to have lasting benefits for the city:

  1. As success stories in the Netherlands have demonstrated convincingly, electric mobility is at the forefront of any national conversation. San Francisco can continue to be a leader in this space with OrangeGoesGreen’s unique approach to this issue.
  2. Operational costs could be considerably lowered by using electrical transportation instead of the conventional transportation used today.
  3. We see the promotional benefits for the organizations, which either contribute technically or sponsor financially, to be brand elevating.
  4. This initiative can sustainably solve a problem in transportation that the City of San Francisco as formally requested resolution on by means of a RFQ.

There needs to be universal commitment to implementing projects that serve the public good as well as preserve our natural environment. It is with these values that we are undertaking the Clean Boats & Bikes Initiative and expect it to be a model for how urban transit can be structured in the future.

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