Halifax-based BlueGrid and its partners have built what they believe to be the first working vessel-to-grid energy transfer system in the world, making it possible for boat owners to sell power back to local utilities.

BlueGrid, formally Rimot, was founded by CEO Andrew Boswell and CTO James Craig in 2016. The company partnered with Norwegian electric motor company Evoy and Lunenburg, N.S. shipbuilders ABCO on the vessel-to-grid system, extending a partnership that originated with a prior Ocean Supercluster research and development project.

Now, BlueGrid and the Supercluster have announced a new project, worth $2.3 million, with a roster of new partners including the Lennox Island First Nation in P.E.I., Britain’s RS Electric Boats and Dalhousie University, among others. The group is receiving $550,000 from the Supercluster, as well as funding from British government organization Innovate UK and plans to deploy vessel-to-grid systems on both sides of the Atlantic.

“As boats go electric … those vessels need reliable, accessible, affordable charging,” said Boswell in an interview. “And on the flip side, the electric grid is gong through its own transformation into renewables like wind and solar, as well as trying to step up to all this electrification.

“These two sectors don’t talk. They have no historical reason to ever have communicated, and yet they’re going to need to collaborate for this to work, because these are big vessels with big batteries and charging requirements. That’s where we come in.”

The maritime sector has been adopting electrification with increasing rapidity for smaller vessels, which tend to operate closer to shore and can be charged at night, Boswell said. MarketsandMarkets, a research firm, estimates the marine electrification industry could be worth as much as US$29.1 million or C$39.8 billion by 2030.

BlueGrid is not a hardware system — the company’s partners handle those elements of the energy transfer process — but rather software that standardizes how vessels connect to the grid and gathers data to model future energy use and storage needs. A version focused on helping organizations plan to implement electrification has been on the market for about a year, while the energy management features are soon to be commercialized.

Boswell and Craig had originally planned to sell software for a range of energy-related applications. After discovering what they saw as an opportunity to build a business at the centre of an emerging marine electrification ecosystem, they decided to focus exclusively on that one industry, with the aim of contributing to the emergence of international best practices.

“Essentially we bet the company on the marine electrification space and solving that one problem,” said Boswell.

The bet paid off. BlueGrid now has 12 employees and is raising equity funding for the first time, with a roster of partnership deals in the works to help scale the business. Boswell was coy about the exact structure of the company’s revenue model, but said co-operating with marinas and other types of infrastructure providers would play a key role.

“On the marina side, we are very connected to our partnerships, particularly with the electric propulsion system OEMs,” he said, using the industry abbreviation for original equipment manufacturers. “Working with (Evoy), that is critical to how we are expanding the number of boats and ultimately making their product better, and ours in the process.”


Andrew Boswell will represent BlueGrid in the Battery Ecosystem panel at Entrevestor Live on Sept. 17 at Volta in Halifax. The panel, sponsored by Emera, wil be hosted by Emera VP Innovation Louise-Anne Comeau and feature Chris Burns, the Founder and CEO of Novonic Battery Technology. Click on this image for details: