For an increasing number of superyacht owners looking for ways to lighten their impact on the environment and achieve efficiency and cost-savings in the process, the recent acquisition of San Diego Bay shipyard Knight & Carver Maritime by marine hybrid systems pioneer Arc Lite Power is good news.
Arc Lite Power - and affiliated company EnergyTech Marine - will bring to the 40-year-old construction and maintenance yard its market-leading PowerCore® hybrid marine propulsion systems and technology which has received industry honours for its innovation. Its systems will now be manufactured at Knight & Carver's 9,290 square metre indoor facility, allowing the yard to boost its traditional offerings with the world's first global hybrid superyacht conversion and certification centre.
'As the current year winner of the IBEX Innovation Award, we have received numerous requests for proposals and contracts for PowerCore® hybrid systems on a wide variety of superyachts, commercial and military vessels and we needed to expand into a facility that provides both the infrastructure and the uniquely talented workforce needed to produce both marine hybrid propulsion systems and EnergyTech Marine’s 83-HDX hybrid superyacht model,' says Arc Lite Power chief operating officer Marty Turock.
Knight & Carver fitted the bill perfectly, 'providing the indoor facility for the manufacture of Arc Lite Power’s custom marine lithium ion batteries and hybrid propulsion system sub-assemblies, while also offering a shipyard with direct access to the Pacific Ocean for both hybrid repowers and construction of our 83-HDX or other custom hybrid vessels,' says Turock.
From Knight & Carver's point of view it is business as usual 'except we will be able to offer cutting edge, environmentally friendly and cost saving technology enhancing our core capabilities and traditional craftsmanship offerings to our clients,' says Kate Pearson, vice president/business development at Knight & Carver Maritime.
Systems for any size superyacht
Arc Lite Power's hybrid PowerCore® systems range from 16hp up to 1,000hp continuous duty rating per shaft, and work by running the diesel engine only intermittently at its optimal specific fuel consumption to charge a lithium ion battery, which then drives the electric propulsion motors, while also providing all of the vessel’s hotel loads, eliminating gensets.
'Within the superyacht range we have standard systems which would cover a sweet spot of 25 to 60 metres,' says Turock, 'and for vessels larger than that, depending on the mission profile, we could custom design a parallel or serial hybrid system.'
Conversions are starting to line up. 'We have three private yachts booked for conversions from diesel to parallel hybrid,' comments Turock. 'Interestingly, the next few projects in the pipeline also include military vessels, which, in addition to capitalising on the fuel and emissions reductions of our hybrid systems, are also looking to take advantage of the “zero-heat” and “zero-noise signatures” of our super-efficient lithium ion batteries and electric propulsion motors.'
Booking in a conversion
A standard single-drive system conversion can take as little as a week with Arc Lite Power's 'plug n' play' hybrid system that has been custom-designed to seamlessly and autonomously operate through its proprietary hybrid command and control system. But as Turock points out, 'every vessel owner will typically have a few other unique requirements for their repower, and to allow for this planning and customisation we might expect 3 to 6 month complete project cycles.'
Other companies may offer marine hybrid system components, but Turock believes they are the first to provide 'the full turnkey end-to-end hybrid system solution with autonomous command and control, as well as the facilities and technical capabilities to install and service them.'
The future is hybrid
Future plans include developing the technology that has been tested on its first full-hybrid superyacht, the 83 HD-X, launched six years ago, and building EnergyTech Marine's line of hybrid sailing yachts - construction on two more 83 HD-X hybrid sailing vessels is beginning at Knight & Carver.
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