What modern hybrid yachts are today
Denis Korablev
  • 26.10.2021
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What modern hybrid yachts are today

Recently, a new trend has been observed in shipbuilding: the development of environmentally friendly and multifunctional yachts. Increasingly, boats are being produced with hybrid engines that use thermal and electrical energy. According to the experts 2yachts, during sailing, hybrid yachts emit significantly less harmful substances into the atmosphere, the level of comfort for passengers increases on board, and the cruising range increases and, a nice bonus - fuel costs are reduced by almost 4 times. On a sunny day, it is possible to charge the battery up to 80% capacity. If the charge is completely used up, the generator motor will automatically turn on to generate current.

There are four operating modes for a hybrid yacht:

  • shore power mode;
  • electric;
  • diesel;
  • parking and energy storage.

Using all 4 modes evenly, you can enjoy chatting with friends, the sun and seascapes without worries. However, yacht owners are still cautious about buying new products, as the range of the electric system is calculated for tens of miles. Of course, internal combustion engines create a large heat flux and a loud roar when the vessel moves, but at the same time the power consumption of a diesel engine exceeds the power consumption of batteries by more than ten times. When crossing the ocean, this is important, since unfavorable weather for sailing can last for several days and then all hope is for an engine that can help avoid danger. A 35-foot yacht with a 10 kW lithium battery will sail under the same conditions only 24 nautical miles at a speed of 3.8 knots.


What do the leading manufacturers offer?

Currently, the introduction of electric motors in the creation of small boats is progressing at a slower pace compared to the automotive industry, but progress has already been made. The market is still quite small, the leader in the production of electric motors is the German company "Torqeedo" (sales exceeded 25 million euros at the end of the year). The majority of buyers are ferry and compact boat owners with a preference for outboard motors, but the company also has something to offer to owners of vessels ranging in length from 20 to 60 feet, with a displacement of two to fifty tons.

Yachtsmen are interested in electric motors, but are not ready to give them preference completely. Manufacturers have found the best solution and today are producing hybrid power plants combining electricity and diesel.

A conventional motor replaces an electric motor with a lithium battery in such an installation. You can charge it using natural factors (wind and sun) or in the process of hydroelectricity (energy is created for batteries by rotating the propeller while sailing). The supply of electricity over a long period of time is provided by a autonomous DC generator (unpretentious, it will take any place on board). This system allows yachts to maneuver, without creating noise, at the anchorage or in the port.

Finnish cruise yacht specialist Oceanvolt recommends that yachtsmen who plan to travel around the world purchase a hybrid system with standby generator capable of generating electricity continuously when needed. But it is needed only as a reserve, since the propeller rotating during the sailing period does an excellent job of recharging the batteries.

A properly sized or specially designed generator is much more efficient at converting diesel to electricity than an engine that was not originally designed for this purpose. Although the built-in hybrid system, which is mounted to an existing diesel engine, is also popular among sailors.

More and more shipbuilding companies include propulsion power plant in their "native" equipment. The renowned German brand Hanse Yachts introduces a electric base design on the rudder, which is quiet (no emissions and vibration) and requires less space than a standard diesel.

This technology has interested lovers of calm yachting, making walks on the lakes. However, recently racing yacht owners have also paid attention to low weight propulsion units. According to skipper Boris Hermann, racing that generates its own energy is a very inspiring concept.

Electrical installations are confidently making their way to the elite market. The modification of the Privilege 5 catamaran and the Gunboat 60 carbon boat was carried out thanks to the lightweight Torqeedo kit, the flagship Swan 57 model and the carbon Agile 42 are equipped with Oceanvolt installations in parallel.

The British company "Spirit Yachts" has developed an electrical installation for the flagship Spirit 111 with 4 lithium batteries (40 kW) on board. The flagship is able to work very quietly for a long time, as a backup it is equipped with a 100 kW diesel generator. According to the director of the company Nigel Stewart, the attention of the manufacturers is focused on increasing the comfort of the vessel, the coordinated work of numerous galley and heating facilities, hot water systems, hydraulics, air conditioners, etc. is provided.

Spirit Yachts admits that it has not considered yachtsmen as buyers, but within the next 5 years it is not opposed to correct this mistake. Yacht owners agree to pay for enough energy around the clock to be able to turn on the air conditioner even at night or, on the contrary, heat the cabins. And this requires system integration, the installation must ensure that solar panels, hydrogenerators, batteries, motors, etc. work without failures on board.

In the future, how will manufacturers surprise hybrid sailing?

Shipbuilders already anticipate the wave of popularity of hybrid yachts in the future and are preparing to surprise consumers with modern design, which is based on simplicity of lines, while not forgetting to improve technical characteristics.

Torqeedo is going to mass-produce new DC generators that are specially designed for hybrid sailing vessels. The Dutch company "WhisperPower" presented a prototype with a power of 25 kW. It is assumed that the generator will run at optimum speed, and to improve efficiency at the same time, the "wise" converter will separate the charging voltage from the battery voltage.

As in the automotive industry, a breakthrough in the boat market is directly related to the electrical capacity of batteries. Today, the main argument of skeptics is that the power reserve cannot be compared to a diesel one. Manufacturers agree with this and state that this issue will take at least ten years, although laboratories are already testing batteries that are 10 times more productive than lithium. As soon as theoretical developments begin to be put into practice, the gasoline era will end. Currently, according to leading companies, it is necessary to combine short-term prospects with long-term vision.

Common technologies based on lithium-manganese-cobalt add 5-8% annually. Deep Blue Integrated System from Torqeedo maintains 40 kWh of power, which gives a good increase (33%); especially nice that the size, weight and price have not changed much.

Development is underway in the direction of the screw. Most cruising yachts are equipped with foldable or conventional propellers for diesel engines. Torqeedo research has proven that variable pitch propellers provide high motor torque.

Oceanvolt has studied in detail the interaction of propellers and electric motors using the Servo Prop system as an example and claims that this propeller at five knots actually delivers almost 500 W to the batteries, and at six knots - already 800 W ... If you install the advanced system at the front, then its efficiency increases by 30%, at the stern - by 100%, and in the "regeneration" mode - by all 300%.

It is difficult for new technologies to compete with established buyers in terms of cost, but manufacturers were able to overcome this: the price of electrical systems today is quite affordable to ordinary consumers, and as it turns out, in the end, they require almost no maintenance ... So in the process of the development of the "electric revolution" on the water, silent boats with an electric drive will appear more and more often!

Is it about torque?

In the electric motor, many yachtsmen are drawn to the idea that a smaller engine does as much work as a large diesel engine. How does it work? Diesel in the process of work along the way gives out a lot of noise and heat, but does not convert energy into traction. The electric motor is significantly superior to the diesel in terms of torque characteristics. According to Oceanvolt, a 10 kW engine will easily outshine a 30 horsepower diesel engine. When comparing the characteristics of the engines, it was found that the electric one gives out the maximum speed slightly lower than the diesel one, but the boat with the electric motor confidently keeps the speed in the headwind and in the restless sea, maneuvers more actively in a small area of marinas due to the higher torque.

The internal combustion engine shows good torque at 1800-2000 rpm, and the electric motor - from 0 to 2000 rpm due to the use of thin propellers with a progressive step and a sufficiently high efficiency actions.

An interesting novelty Alternator

At the stages of its development, almost ten million dollars were invested over several years, but according to the conclusion of the famous expert Nigel Culler, the alternator turned out to be so powerful that there is no need to have a generator on board. An alternator is an electrical installation capable of converting mechanical energy into electrical energy of alternating current. The system includes lead-acid batteries (10 kWh), highly reliable chargers and professional Victron inverters.

According to Culler, when the engine is running, the alternator charges the batteries; when operating in neutral mode, it switches to the generator autonomous mode algorithm. The alternator removes the problems of cooling circuits, through housings, maintenance, and is likely to be significantly less expensive than purchasing a generator.


Case: sailing yacht Dufour 382 Alcyone?

Year of manufacture - 2016. Soon it was re-equipped with a SD15 Oceanvolt engine with a lithium battery (14 kWh), which required an investment of 30.600 euros.

In order to extend the range, the owners purchased a DC generator with a capacity of 8 kW / h and a cost of almost 14,000 euros, they had to pay additionally for the installation of about 8,000 euros. Despite the impressive costs, they were satisfied, since these technologies are the future.

Currently yacht owners are renting the yacht to a charter company near Vancouver, where the main condition is clean, noise-free movement, so that the smell and rumble of diesel engines does not overshadow the joy of recreation on the water and does not disturb secluded parking lots. The owners explain that the installation of the Oceanvolt system helped to fulfill this condition.

According to the manager of the charter company, the yacht rental service is in demand among vacationers, as it consumes 40% less fuel per week of sailing. diesel engine. It takes some time, according to customers, to adapt to the system, and sometimes troubleshooting is not an easy task.

Large-scale electrification of yachts is coming!

Electric motors are gaining popularity and are increasingly taking their place on board. Today, almost 80% of yachtsmen equip their boats with outboard electric motors E-propulsion and Torqeedo, the main advantages are the lightness of the motor, ease of use and silence when the sailboat moves.

Modern hybrid yachts are an economical and environmentally friendly way to navigate lakes, rivers and seas. They intelligently combine the advantages of the two engine types and are easily adaptable to a wide variety of use scenarios, thanks to the ability to switch from electric to diesel and vice versa.

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