Anthony Baro, managing principal and founder of PowerDocks LLC, talks about the new business, which offers modular, moored and free-floating autonomous marine platforms powered by renewable energy that are designed to power equipment, store power, charge electrical equipment and facilitate operational functions in off-coastal marine regions. The company, which is based in Newport, also recently received a $29,554 Innovation Voucher award from the R.I. Commerce Corp. to work with Roger Williams University to integrate customized wireless charging functionality into micro-grid platforms.
PBN: How long has the business been around? How many employees do you have?
BARO: PowerDocks was established in March. We currently have three employees.
PBN: How did the business start?
BARO: [Out of] the need to fulfill a partner’s need to recharge its own Marine Electric Propulsion Vessel moored on its own moorings in Bristol and East Greenwich Harbors.
PBN: What type of clients do you serve? Do you have a lot of competitors?
BARO: We serve commercial marinas, yachting and pleasure crafts, oceanographic instrumentation, aquaculture, and defense clients worldwide. We have no known competitors at this time. PowerDocks has four utility patents filed.
PBN: Is the electric-powered vessel market and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle market growing?
BARO: In 2011, the market size was $2.6 billion. It is projected to grow in 2023 to $6.3 billion. The rapidly growing $2.6 billion market for marine electric vehicles will reach $6.3 billion in 2023. It is unusually varied with average unit prices increasing as larger craft are electrified to improve cost over life, performance, green credentials and for other reasons. The market includes on-water and underwater electric vehicles for inland waterways and the sea. Military electric craft are the largest market sector by value today, but e-workboats and other, smaller market subsectors will increase their share of market by value through the coming decade.
PBN: Tell me about the Innovation Voucher award and how PowerDocks will work with Roger Williams University on the project?
BARO: The collaborative research project intends to investigate techniques, requirements, regulations and design systems that would allow wireless charging of Unmanned Air Vehicles and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, such as air and underwater robotic drones, using PowerDocks’ autonomous floating micro-grid platforms as a renewable power source.