When it comes to designing and manufacturing boats and boat components, there are a lot of interesting trends in the pipeline. Many of those trends are focused on creating boats that are more environmentally friendly.
The following are some of the things to watch for as far development and technology in the boating industry.
Volkswagen’s Solar-Powered Catamaran
Known for its innovative and simultaneously practical cars, now Volkswagen is switching gears. The automaker is planning to venture into yacht development. They recently announced they are going to use their electric vehicle platform but take it to the seas as a solar-electric catamaran.
Volkswagen is partnering with Silent Yachts, an Austria-based company, for the new project.
The catamarans will use the same electric powertrain used in the VW ID.3 and ID.4.
Silent Yachts is already known for creating the first solar-powered catamarans in the world, and they have become increasingly popular over the past few years. These boats have solar panels and lithium batteries for almost unlimited range without emissions, vibrations, fumes, or noise.
VW says that its partnership with Silent Yachts will make an already impressive product even better.
The VW fleet will have a modular e-drive system, also known as MEB.
It’s both powerful and quiet, and it’s already used in millions of electric vehicles, so the hope is that integrating MEB into the Silent Yachts boats will be less expensive to build and will facilitate easier service.
Silent Yachts developed the Solarwave 46, which was the first solar-powered yacht in the world even before the partnership with VW.
Silent Yachts features some of the world’s biggest and most luxurious yachts, all powered by solar. For example, they have a new boat that is 80-feet and has a salon, six staterooms, and the lithium-ion batteries ensure unlimited cruising.
Henk de Vries, director of Feadship, says he’d like to see every yacht that his company designs have hybrid propulsion technology by 2025. He’s so dedicated that Feadship says it will take on the extra cost over the use of traditional propulsion.
A Growing Solar Niche
Along with Silent Yachts, the solar boating industry as a whole is poised for growth. For example, there are a couple of new names on the block—Serenity Yachts and the BYD Group.
These power yachts feature top speeds of up to 20 knots and cruising speeds of eight knots.
Then, there’s the new wake surf boat from Correct Craft which uses an energy-dense battery system, where there would normally be a combustion engine.
The idea of this boat is to mirror a wake surf experience, and the stern digs into the water. However, what you don’t get are the noise and emissions.
The cruise industry was arguably one of the most hard-hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but as vaccine rollouts continue throughout the world, the hope is that the industry will rebound, and perhaps in a greener way.
Cruise lines have been changing their environmental policies to include better waste-processing and recycling.
Also, green technology isn’t just being used in the construction of new ships. It’s also being retrofitted into newer ships. For example, solar panels and exhaust systems that minimize emissions are more common than ever before.
There are changes in hull design so ships can move through the water with more efficiency, and energy-efficient appliances are being added to ships.
Some cruise lines and specific cruises are themed around the idea of being environmentally-friendly.
Uniworld is one example. This river cruise company is luxurious but also emphasizes things like buying locally and recycling waste. The chefs who work on the boat will go to local markets for things like produce, and they’ll buy from organic wineries.
Ecoventura is a cruise line in the Galapagos that offsets carbon emissions.
Other Eco-Friendly Boating Trends
Outside of the luxury yacht world and cruising, there are so many changes taking place that emphasize an industry that’s becoming greener.
For example, marine fuel is likely to become safer throughout this year. The reason? For the first time, sulfur emissions will be capped at 0.5% of total exhaust volume.
Renewable diesel fuel is becoming more common in the marine fuel market. It’s 100% renewable and made from vegetable oils.
There’s hardly an industry that will be untouched by the growing interest and priority being placed on being more eco-friendly, and boating is no exception. While superyachts and cruise ships are garnering much of the attention right now, it’s likely these trends will quickly trickle down to other boats as well.