On behalf of sustainable marine organisation Foundation Zero, Marnix Hoekstra of Dutch design studio Vripack, used the opportunity of BOAT International's Superyacht Design Festival to release the first details about a 69-metre "zero fossil fuel" sailing yacht currently in build at Vitters.
Named Project Zero, the ketch-rigged sailing yacht will operate completely free of fossil fuels while also harvesting wind, thermal and solar energy to power the yacht and its amenities. The technology behind the build will be available in the public domain and the yacht's exterior look will not be compromised by energy-harvesting solutions, according to Hoekstra.
Vripack's co-creative director explained that the proposed sail plan generates power equivalent to 1.5 megawatts — approximately the same amount of energy generated by a common modern wind turbine of 70 meters in diameter. A hydro-generator is then used to convert kinetic energy into electricity, which will power a large part of the yacht.Read More/Superyacht Design Festival 2023: All the highlights from Cortina d'Ampezzo
Using a mix of wind, solar and thermal energy is important, according to Hoekstra. "Hydrogeneration and wind generation are a lot more effective but less reliable and therefore predictable," he explained. He added the fact that "solar panels harvest electrical energy with only 21 to 23 per cent efficiency".
According to Hoekstra, 50 per cent of hotel load relates to heat and "a known negative side effect of solar panels is that they heat up to egg frying temperatures, which do not even benefit the efficiency of the solar panel". The team has therefore developed hybrid solar panels that will be able to collect around 20 per cent of the energy in the form of electricity and the remaining 80 per cent of energy in the form of heat.
As for storing the heat, Hoekstra said: "Outside our industry, there are a number of proven heat batteries, actually a very safe and reliable system where the main substance in the battery is salt. At this moment at Vitters, a prototype is running to develop a marine version of what is already available on land."
The solar panels will be carefully integrated into the yacht's awning and the deckhouse without compromising the aesthetics of the yacht. They will also be able to electronically pivot in order to capture the most sun.
To achieve zero-emission cruising, Hoekstra said that Vripack had to completely rethink the design of the yacht. "It is not about improving what we had, it’s all about cutting-edge innovation," he said. The yacht will have no engine room — "not even in a secret compartment disguised as a 'range extender' " — meaning that classification systems will have to be newly developed for Project Zero to comply with them.
Crucially, all of the technology behind the build of the yacht will be available in an open-source format to allow other parties to start implementing net-zero cruising. The sailing yacht forms part of the Foundation Zero mission, which was developed by a group of investors and a team of physicists together with the naval architects of the Dykstra studio. A Foundation Zero website is currently in development and will contain all of the findings and raw data from the yacht's testing as it becomes available.Read More/Watch: Vripack on why building a superyacht is like making a pizza