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Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Tuesday 12 July, 2022

Electrification is hailed as one of the greener alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels for the automotive industry, and has been making waves within yachting as fully electric tender and small yacht models become more commonplace.

For large superyachts, and the maritime industry at large, electrification is not a practical solution. The size of these yachts simply could not accommodate the sheer scale of batteries required to power them.

Nuclear power is not practical either, as many countries restrict nuclear powered vessels within their waters, and if the ships were to sink, they would contribute to an environmental disaster and radiation leakage. This isn’t to mention the sheer cost in training the required yacht crew and manpower to operate.

Hydrogen is one intriguing alternative, but currently is beset with a lot of pitfalls and problems. This leaves alternative fuels as a great potential remedy for powering superyachts and in turn reducing greenhouse emissions.

Ammonia is toxic, and whilst would be great for cargo vessels, separating the fuel at a significant distance from superyacht crew and guests would be problematic.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) is one such fuel that can be used in any diesel engine, requiring minimal retrofit. It is in limited supply however and might be required for planes, trains and cars. Though for a superyacht it’s unlikely that any price premium would deter any yacht owner who is serious about reducing their emissions right away. If the supply is limited switching back to diesel doesn’t represent a problem but fails in making HVO a permanent solution.

Another solution is via liquified natural gas (LNG), though for a superyacht it represents hurdles in both the lack of yachting infrastructure available for LNG refuelling and the size of current fuel tanks being inadequate for storage. Whilst LNG is certainly greener it is still not 100% clean either, but would result in a reduction of 99% of Sulphur emissions, 80% for nitrogen oxides, most particulate matters, and also up to 20% of carbon dioxide emissions.

That being said, superyacht orders are coming in for LNG powered yachts. Njord, the 289m private residence giga-yacht (see our story about private residence yachts!) being constructed by Meyer Werft will be powered by LNG.

There are plenty of exciting alternative fuels and biofuels coming onto the market and in future years we may yet see more alternatives for the superyacht sector.

For more information about carbon offsetting, carbon capture, reducing your emissions and alternative fuels for your yacht, get in touch with the yacht management team at SWM Yachts.

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