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Transportation transportation Solar

Cruise the world on solar power alone on the Silent 55 yacht

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by: Sharai Hoekema
cruise the world on solar power alone on the silent 55 yacht

Humans have always been drawn to the water on our planet. To the lakes, the rivers, the seas all around us. Not surprising, considering how important this liquid substance is to our daily lives. Yet at times it may be a bit… much. Just think about those individuals who are so fond of boating and sailing that they embark on all kinds of wild oceanic adventures. From crossing the Pacific and Atlantic to sailing around the world, there seems to be an undeniable appeal to exploring the best our earth has to offer from the water.

The richest-of-the-rich have added an extra layer to this with their expensive yachting hobbies. Huge ships that are best described as floating palaces grace the most gorgeous seas and coasts, entertaining guests and cruising coastal hot-spots.

The ecological price of yachting

These expensive hobbies do however carry a higher price tag than merely the one attached to its hull upon purchase. Large boats are notorious polluters, that use up scarce resources and fuels in its operation and frequently leave a trail of waste and pollution in its wake. The use of renewable energy for boating is still in its infancy.

This is exactly why we are so excited to discover initiatives that are dedicated to making ocean-travel more sustainable, while not taking away the luxury and pleasure it brings along. Take the Silent 55, a solar-powered yacht that can cruise for weeks at a time on solar energy alone.

A prototype of carbon-neutral yachts using renewable energy

Ok, let’s nuance the previous statement a bit. It is not like you can actually keep on going continuously for weeks at a time at top speed, using nothing but renewable energy. According to its manufacturer, the Silent 55 can cruise for up to 160 km per day. The energy needs are directly derived from its 30 high-efficiency photovoltaic solar panels. These panels deliver peaks around 10 kilowatts into an inverter and charge the battery. 

Unfortunately the manufacturer has not revealed any specifications with regard to the capacity or size of this battery. The critical solar energy connoisseur will recognise that the numbers mentioned above are not exactly spectacular. The amount of solar energy generated seems low, especially when offsetting it to the options the manufacturer provides for engine power: respectively at 2x135 kW (E-Power configuration) and 2x 30 kW (cruiser configuration). 

Frugality is key to saving the planet: go easy on the engine 

Founder Michael Köhler does, however, insist that this is sufficient to cruise at a ‘normal’ speed for hours at a time, although he recommends a reduced speed in the evenings and at night. In order to reach optimum efficiency, it seems important to cut back your use of other on-board appliances that require energy, and go easy on the throttles. 

If you are afraid that you will quite literally end up dead in the water, several add-ons are available that may offer some much needed support. For those who are not entirely opposed to coughing out some extra CO2 in the atmosphere, a diesel generator can be added that will provide some 100 kW. 

For those who prefer the natural approach and insist on renewable energy sources only, the inclusion of a mast and sails is the way to go. A particularly intriguing option is the ‘sky sail’, which is basically a large kite that will be let up in the air to an altitude of 150 meters. This way, it can take advantage of the high-altitude winds while its shadow does not interfere with the solar panels’ capacity to soak up direct sunlight.

Comfortable and customisable living on-board

While the concept of powering the yacht by solar panels is promising, the inventors were clearly more concerned with the technology than with its design. While the top deck is completely taken over by the solar panels, you have ample space to relax on the main deck. Inside, you can enjoy some 40 square meters of living space and a variety of options for sleeping quarters (up to 3 bedrooms, each with en-suite bathroom).

For some €1.4 million this eco-friendly yacht can be yours. Quite a steal, considering the lower costs of fuel and maintenance. Although the interior might not be for you if you are used to ‘regular’ yachts with over-the-top-bling and accessories. For those of you, we recommend looking into the larger versions (19,5 meters and 24 meters respectively) that Silent Yachts is working on. Gives you just that little extra space for a grand kitchen or media room.

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