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Do the next generation of owners really want yachts fuelled by hydrogen?

15 June 2021By Laura Nicholls for Lateral Naval Architects

The new generation of yacht owners is here. They are younger, with a fresh belief system, buying motivation and want superyachts that are kind to the environment.

A company well ahead in the race for creating an eco-friendly future is Lateral Naval Architects. Managing Director, James Roy, has seen a spike in demands for sustainable superyachts: “Clients are already asking us to engineer, design and build yachts which can ‘leave no trace’, perhaps even operate in a way that leaves a positive impact on the environment. There is a real opportunity here for our industry to be at the forefront of future tech development and lead the way,” explains James.

Sustainability is now a core part of almost any company’s business plan as more and more pick up the pace to adapt to provide eco-friendly solutions. Already there are hybrid engines, high-tech wastewater treatment and new developments in naval architecture and design – but the field of zero-carbon alternative fuels needs more support.

“As we look to the future we see yachting as zero carbon. There is a wide range of alternative zero-carbon fuel options either in the making or readily available, but the real challenge lies in the fuel distribution network, because that does not exist,” says James.

And how does he know? All because of the 112-metre Project AQUA that hit headlines in 2019 with Lateral’s partners SINOT Yacht Architecture & Design. AQUA was put in the spotlight for the way she utilised the technology and fuel alternatives predicted to be available in the next five years – namely, liquid hydrogen.

AQUA would need to be fuelled by hydrogen generated from renewable sources via electrolysis, such as wind power. Considered a zero-carbon fuel, liquid hydrogen works with its only emission being water once the superyacht’s onboard technology has stored and converted the substance into electricity. This type of technology is already developed and is available to buy, meaning the Project AQUA could in fact fast become a reality.

“It is very possible to design a yacht around this technology, or even contract a shipyard to build it,” adds James. “But, to make it happen, the industry needs to widen its thinking. If we aspire to deliver yachts that can run on alternative fuels such as hydrogen, we need to play a part in the development of the fuel distribution network and the generation of green energy. Perhaps in the future, we will be packaging the sale of a superyacht with a share in a wind turbine in a far-off wind farm!”

As Lateral’s research and development continues in this area, James Roy and his team are set on challenging engineering beyond the development of the yacht itself. Also, with regulations such as MARPOL tier 3 standards coming into force, Lateral Naval Architects offers its clients a simple framework that simplifies decision making, avoids over-choice and encourages authentically adventurous innovation.

To find out more about how Lateral Naval Architects can assist with a future superyacht project, contact the company directly here. 


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