Hybrid Superyachts: If there is one thing that affects the entire world and would require a concerted effort from governments and businesses worldwide to adequately address, it’s climate change. As the general populace increasingly becomes aware about the effects of burning fossil fuels on our environment, we are beginning to see a new wave of innovations in the realm of alternative energy.
Cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, and even superyachts are beginning to embrace the green future set before us. The automobile industry, among others, have made leaps and bounds when it comes to using green energy sources. So how does the superyacht industry scale up and are superyachts as a collective ready to make the jump?
In order for superyachts to avoid the use of fossil fuels, a ‘hybrid phase’ is inevitable. For those who may not know, a hybrid power system involves a combination of different power sources. In most cases, hybrid power systems are made up of two sources of power; mechanical (a regular engine that runs on fossil fuel) and electric. There can be several configurations but the combination of mechanical and electrical is the most common.
The environment and regulations
The main argument for hybrid power and other cleaner sources of energy is that it is less harmful to the environment. Less consumption of fossil fuels will ultimately result in a reduced carbon footprint, which is good news for our atmosphere, our marine life and our own lives.
Noise and emissions regulations are also instrumental in helping shipbuilders make the switch to hybrid. As builders attempt to keep up with the increasingly strict regulations, hybrid power may be the only way to guarantee compliance.
Calm, Quiet and Comfort
A superyacht allows freedom, relaxation and a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, a loud and grumpy diesel engine may sometimes disrupt such bliss, especially at night when you’re longing for a peaceful, sound sleep.
Hybrid systems provide a solution, running at significantly lower noise levels when compared to conventional engines. This means hybrid power is not only a sustainable and eco-friendly move but also a logical one for those on and off board.
The Savannah, an 84-meter-long yacht built by Feadship was one of the first superyachts to employ a hybrid setup. Savannah’s power plant is made up of a single diesel engine, three gensets, batteries, propeller, and azimuthing thrusters. Savannah’s claim to fame was her ability to use up to 30 percent less fuel when compared to a similar-sized boat.
More recently, Dutch builder, Hessen launched their second hybrid superyacht; Project Electra. Project Electra was designed with noise regulations and fuel efficiency in mind. At the heart of Project Electra’s hybrid system is a normal diesel engine and a diesel-electric engine. This combination allows Project Electra to operate in four different modes. Hybrid, economic, cruising, and boost mode.
From all indications, it really isn’t a matter of if but when. A future where hybrid power is the norm for superyachts is inevitable.
Considering constant innovations and evolutions within the industry as a whole, the superyacht industry is destined for an electric future where renewable energy is the standard. It’s simply now a matter of waiting for technology to become available, accessible and affordable to the entire market and from there, hybrid power will indeed become the norm.
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