WILL HYBRID PROPULSION BE THE FUTURE OF YACHTING?
By: Eric Althaus
14th June, 2021
The themes of sustainability, fuel consumption and silent cruising are all taken into consideration by both yacht builders and yacht owners. Still, yacht owners are highly demanding, therefore not accepting any limitations due to technical shortcomings.
In 2006, the engineer Michele Maggi introduced the first hybrid system e-Motion, working hard to develop a whole suite of systems that would enable an electrical and a diesel propulsion system to operate side by side. This idea has been difficult to implement as, at that time, few professionals believed in the power of this yacht transformation and nothing similar was present in the market.
In the following years, numerous shipyard starting to develop the idea regarding the important of hybrid systems. it wasn’t until 2015, that the next big step forward came with the installation of a true diesel-electric e-Motion hybrid system on board a Sanlorenzo SL106. This yacht incorporated all the characteristics that owners desire on board: Fast, elegant and electrically powered too!
For Sanlorenzo this was a real turning point.The evident success of the SL106 with a hybrid drive led the shipyard to install the same set-up on the smaller SL86 series. Consequently this hybrid propulsion system was also applied to the super-yacht lines, such as 44 Alloy, 500 Exp and 62 Steel.
The benefits of hybrid propulsion are numerous. Fuel consumption and engine hours are significantly reduced while annual CO2 emissions decrease by 50%, so owners can cruise with a clean conscience. More importantly, it allows owners to benefit from an enhanced quality of life on board. In Zero Emissions Mode guests can enjoy the sea and swim platform without no unhealthy gas rising in the air. Furthermore, other benefits related to the e-Motion hybrid system are:
- International worldwide shore power compatibility
- Increased performance through Power Boost Mode
- Fast batteries charging: 90% charge in only 35 minutes or less
- Higher resale value of the vessel
- Maintenance-free. Only the dedicated water cooling pumps require service
Massimo Perotti, President and CEO of Sanlorenzo, believes that the diesel/electric combination developed for yachting is one of the most interesting applications of the hybrid. The synergy between the two power sources leads to the right balance between energy saving, performance, comfort, and eco-sustainability.
Nowadays the application of the e-Motion hybrid system is applied to yachts with an LOA that varies from 50ft to 220ft. An example of a successful hybrid super-yacht is the S501 Bintador. Built by the Italian shipyard Tankoa Yachts, the 50-metre Bintador revealed to be a real success. Winning the World Superyacht Awards in 2020, she is a real example of the perfect combination between power, sustainability and elegance.
Technically, Tankoa S501 is characterised by a range of 4,900 nautical miles in diesel-electric mode at 10.5 knots, or a top speed of 18 knots in power boost mode. The owner of Bintador is highly satisfied with his new vessel. His priority was comfort and he now confirms that cruising with less noise and vibration is one of the best feelings. “Cruising on Bintador is really pleasant; sometimes it’s hard to notice you are actually moving.” (Owner Bintador)
E-Motion has and continues to invest heavily in the relationship with the major battery builders, as well as being ready to launch a proprietary product at the end of the years. Michele Maggi states that new chemistry is set to double the capacity of lithium batteries in the next three years, meaning that with only one tonne of batteries, yachts can have all the needed power. This will eventually lead to full-electric yachts in the nearby future.
In conclusion the idea of hybrid system has resulted to be highly efficient and appreciated by many yacht owners and professionals. As many owners have already discovered, the silence and lack of vibration resulting from the electric power totally change the idea of yachting. Waking up on board in the morning without hearing the noise of the engines is breathtaking. A unparalleled sensation.