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Hybrid Superyachts: A Sustainable Buzz ?

Tony Slinn
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Hybrid superyachts are no longer novelties, yet they are still scarce enough that their technological features are highly specialized and unique.

According to the First Export Association of Dutch Shipbuilders (Feadship), Savannah is the first hybrid superyacht, and the first to feature an eco-friendly blend of single diesel engine, three gensets, batteries, propeller, azimuthing thruster, and a streamlined hull shape.

Awards and Competition

The 83.5 m yacht has been garlanded with a host of awards since her launch in 2015.

But there are arguably two other contenders for first hybrid/diesel-electric superyacht, Lürssen Werft’s 2005-built Air (now renamed Ice) and Royal Huisman’s Ethereal, built between 2005 and the second half of 2008.

In describing Savannah, Feadship claims that “fuel economies of 30%, the pioneering electro-mechanical propulsion platform marries our past experience and forward-thinking approach.”

Her main engine is a Wärtsilä 9L20 4-stroke, producing 1,800 kW at 1,000 rpm, with the generators from Caterpillar, one C32 and two C18s. The combination gives her a maximum speed of 17 knots and a range of 6,500 nm from her 170,000 fuel tanks.

The Pros and Cons of Hybrid Propulsion

Hybrid/diesel-electric propulsion has been refined over the years, but why has it taken so long for superyacht builders and owners to catch on?

NauticExpo e-Magazine asked Lürssen Werft about this as well as the pros and cons.

“Sustainability is the new buzzword—every company wants to be seen as sustainable,” a spokeswoman said. “Yachts also need to be sustainable, and research into sustainable, environment-friendly propulsion systems is in full swing.

“We first installed a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system on a yacht back in 1997. Then in 2005 came Air, the first diesel-electric yacht with two Azipod propulsion units.

“Air was fitted with eight Deutz TBD 616 v16, 842 kW diesel generators, mounted in pairs on elastically mounted rafts in four separate rooms, which could supply the required power for both the hotel load as well as for propulsion. The power generated was fed through the power management system to two electric motors housed in two Azipods from [manufacturer] ABB, which hung under the stern.

Hybrid Superyachts: A Sustainable Buzz ?
Courtesy of Feadship

Courtesy of Royal Huisman

Courtesy of Amels

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