The use of hybrid propulsion engines is becoming increasingly popular as owners look to make their superyachts more sustainable. One brand that has been propelling this innovation is hybrid system manufacturer e-Motion, which has installed the systems on new builds including a 50-metre Tankoa and a 42-metre Perini Navi. The CEO of e-Motion, Michele Maggi, breaks down the benefits for eco-conscious superyacht owners.
What are the benefits of hybrid propulsion?
The benefits for customers are comfort, silent navigation and having the luxury to stay all day in the bay without using any diesel and therefore not producing any pollution. Even manoeuvring in port or just cruising at night in electric mode is much more comfortable.
The second great advantage is redundancy, because if your yacht has a failure with a normal system you would have to have downtime for servicing. Instead, with a full parallel hybrid configuration, you have five power sources that you can use for your propulsion and therefore you’re always prepared, no matter what kind of failure you have on board.
The extra advantage is reduced maintenance costs. An electrical engine is maintenance free and so are the batteries, plus there are reduced costs in fuel.
What developments have taken place at the company during the past year?
Well, the list is too long to mention them all! Just think about it; in the past six years, we have been able to lower the weight, costs and size of our systems by about 70%. Software development has also been huge. We now have a much more user-friendly interface for our customers and now the captain can, at the push of a button, switch from full diesel propulsion into full electric or diesel-electric propulsion, and the system does everything automatically.
How do you foresee hybrid propulsion evolving over the next five years?
I see hybrid propulsion as a transition to full electric propulsion that will take place as soon as the battery technology can evolve.
What do you think is the biggest barrier to hybrid energy in yachting?
The yachting industry is really, very conservative. Think about the fact that the engine room layout has stayed the same for 50 years; with two main propulsion engines, two generators and that’s it. Now with the issue of climate change, the shipyards feel the need to go greener and therefore they are ready to experiment with new technologies.
What has been e-Motion’s greatest achievement so far?
E-Motion’s biggest achievement has been to win the challenge in developing a hybrid system with reduced weight, dimensions and costs that can be appealing to the shipyards and to the customer.
We are very proud that we can teach customers to be eco-friendly by using their vessel in a different way. To get a phone call from the customer at the end of the season and hear them say: “you have really changed my life on board, and I would never go back to a standard system,” is our biggest achievement.
What has been your biggest challenge as CEO?
We gained the trust of the shipyards and of the customers with our technology, and that was a really big challenge. Also, having the task to improve your organisation in order to satisfy customer needs worldwide.
What do you think about the new anti-pollution IMO rules?
The other option of an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system will help the environment – but it is nothing compared to the adoption of our hybrid system. The basic system that we offer can capture up to 35% of CO2 yearly emissions of a yacht.
The next step, our platinum full parallel hybrid system, will cut above 55-60% of the yearly CO2 emissions of a yacht, not to mention the serial hybrid solution that, configured with the right amount of battery power packs, will mean that a 52-metre mega yacht will produce the same amount of pollution as two small boats – and this is amazing.
We are in a luxury market. We can afford to make investments into hybrid systems that will be repaid in just two years’ time for less maintenance and less fuel consumption, but we also need to start responsible yachting.