Sustainable Yachting – The Benefits Of A Hybrid System

06 Jan, 2023 · 3 min read
DIBS 2024

As we sail towards a greener future, many of the world’s industries look towards more sustainable practices and the yachting industry is no different. This year, Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS) will again be pushing the boundaries and promoting the advancements and innovations that will shape the future of yachting. From emission-reducing propulsion systems to advanced weather-routing navigation, together, we can lessen our impact on the environment.

Before fossil fuels, ships travelled the world with wind and whilst some yachts still sport rigging and sails, many use diesel motors and generators. Out in the ocean, the wind, the sun and the sea can all provide cleaner energy, and with hybrid systems, a more sustainable approach is possible.

What is a Hybrid System?

During the last 20 years, the advances in lithium-ion battery technology has seen many combustion-powered vehicles and vessels switch to hybrid, or even purely electric drive.

For yachting, a significant breakthrough was realised in 2015, when e-Motion, after nearly a decade of research and development, installed a hybrid system onboard a 31metre Sanlorenzo. Combining diesel and electric, the yacht’s propulsion system could switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power.

As with hybrid cars, the system works using batteries to power the yacht’s motors and generators when the supply is switched. Combining a hybrid battery and combustion engine improves efficiency, boosts power and reduces emissions.

James Roy, Managing Director of industry specialists Lateral Naval Architects, said in a 2021 interview: “Clients are already asking us to engineer, design and build yachts which can ‘leave no trace.’ Perhaps even operate in a way that leaves a positive impact on the environment. There is a real opportunity here for our industry to be at the forefront of future tech development and lead the way.”

What are the Benefits of a Hybrid System?

With the use of a hybrid system, the yacht sees a reduction in fuel consumption of around 30%. The trickledown effect of this reduction in fuel usage, however, brings around further advantages. By switching to electric, the vessels Co2 emissions are greatly reduced, as well as exhaust fumes which contribute to water pollution. By taking strain off the combustion engine, the overall life expectancy of the motor increases.

Aside from the propulsion of the yacht, hybrid systems also help maintain the power for the ‘hotel’ load of the vessel. With less noise, vibrations and fumes usually produced by the onboard generators, time on the yacht is a much more tranquil experience.

Green Energy

Out on the ocean, with the sun beaming down on the deck, solar panels assist in the charging of the batteries. Thanks to the advancements in battery technology, some yachts boast batteries that can hold a million watts of electricity. Taking charge from the running of the diesel engine as well as the sun and even wind, lithium-ion batteries provide greater efficiency whilst vastly reducing the environmental impact of the vessel.

Sustainability in Energy Maintenance & Operation

Ship builders are continually looking for more efficient practices in the construction of their boats. Improving efficiency on the water helps take the strain away from the combustion engines. Optimising the ship’s ballast ensures that the engines are running at maximum efficiency. Likewise, keeping the hull well maintained, glossed and free of growth improves the vessel’s ability in the water by reducing friction.

Weather routing, auto pilot and auto steering can also maximise the efficiency of the yacht. Finding the quickest and safest routes, maintaining speed and capitalising on overnight cruising, fuel consumption is again reduced.

At this year’s Dubai International Boat Show you can explore, learn and see the innovations and technologies that are shaping the future of the industry. From inspirational speakers to tech displays and superyacht tours, we offer unprecedented access to the industry, the lifestyle and the benefits to be found in a life on the ocean.

See sustainable yachting in action down at the dockside, where you can take tours of some of the latest yachting innovations put to work, onboard of some of the world’s most advanced yachts and superyachts.

Register your interest here.