Much like upscale electric cars changed the auto industry, solar yachts are revolutionizing luxury travel and recreation. While the appeal of vacationing on a yacht is undeniable, the environmental costs of moving and overnighting the boat can be significant. And if you want to cross oceans while minding your carbon footprint, you’ve had few options. Today, things are changing. And solar-powered boats are being used by everyone, from environmentalists like Greta Thunberg to racing teams. Below, we offer a glimpse into the exciting, evolving world of solar yachts.
Benefits of Solar Yachts
Whether you are an avid environmentalist or looking at ways to cut fuel costs, the advantages of solar yachts are worth looking into for your next purchase or conversion. Without a doubt, solar-powered boats and electric hybrids offer significantly quieter cruising, and you don’t have to dodge the diesel engine fumes while relaxing at sea. Also, refueling stops may finally be a thing of the past. Treehugger explains: “A solar-powered boat [has] infinite range when paired with lithium-ion batteries on board, which can store the energy produced by the solar panels. Like a sailboat, a solar-powered boat never needs to make refueling stops.” Solar yachts also boast lower running costs and fewer maintenance stops. And, of course, your carbon or greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced dramatically while eliminating the danger of oil or fuel spills.
Solar-powered boats harvest sun power to fuel electric motors, computer-guided navigation systems, lights, electronics, and onboard appliances, like your air conditioning, microwave, and other galley items. If you are cruising for a significant time, diesel engines run the risk of adding another refueling stop to a trip when the usage of appliances and other electronics is high. Powering the boat with flexible solar panels that recharge lithium-ion batteries obviates the need to keep a strict eye on your power consumption while at sea.
There’s also significantly more living space available below decks when using electric motors and batteries, as opposed to bulky diesel engines and machinery. This is critical when you are traveling for an extended period or plan on hosting guests and would like to build out that space for luxury cabins or an upscale salon.
Eye-Catching Solar Yachts
While there are a significant number of solar-powered boats that might inspire, these are some of the most cutting-edge and beautiful solar yachts sailing today.
The Malizia II (aka Gitana 16) by Guillaume Verdier and VPLP Design
The Malizia II is a monohull that was built for racing. This 60-foot yacht has been declared the victor in numerous competitions, and, at speeds of 25 knots, it is currently one of the fastest racing yachts in this class. But this is not the only reason this hybrid yacht became something of a fascination. Treehugger reports: “While it has participated in a number of races and regattas, it is best known for transporting Greta Thunberg to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019.” In addition to solar and sail power, this racing yacht is also supported by hydropower through underwater turbines. This journey across the Atlantic instantly highlighted the possibilities for this type of travel; “The Malizia II raised the international profile of powering boats with renewable, carbon-free energy.”
Silent 80 3-Deck Closed by Silent Yachts
Silent Yachts has several stunning solar-powered yachts on the market, but the Silent 80 3-Deck Closed is known as The Ocean Penthouse. It offers noiseless cruising, zero emissions, and unlimited range. The company claims this luxury craft also has the safest marine propulsion system available. Four to six cabins can be fully customized, and the closed top deck allows for two main living options. As the company explains, buyers can choose to create an owner’s suite with 360-degree views and a private terrace on the third deck or a lounge with a bar, galley, and terrace in the aft. No matter which option you choose, you’ll have a spacious third level and spectacular views to enjoy throughout your voyages.
Eco 80 Sail Catamaran by Sunreef Yachts
The Eco 80 Sail Catamaran won numerous “Best of Show” awards when it was unveiled, and with good reason. This luxury model features Sunreef’s proprietary solar power system, which effectively places solar panels (or “skin”) onto a wider variety of structures, including “the mast, boom, superstructure, and hull sides,” according to the company. Hydro, wind, and sail power can also be used to supplement travel. Additionally, the company reveals that this line of solar yachts employs eco-responsible construction and the latest green technologies while still providing superyacht living spaces and reliable performance. And the interiors are fully customizable, allowing you to create your ideal at-sea living environment.
Serenity 74 Neiman Marcus Edition by Serenity Yachts
Serenity 74 is the latest solar model under construction by Serenity Yachts. It’s a follow-up to their highly successful solar-diesel hybrid, the Serenity 64. The newest model features a grand salon, six opulent cabins, and a solar array that the company guarantees will give you a “virtually endless range with comfort and style unparalleled in the catamaran market.” And as the name would suggest, the decadent interiors were designed by Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing. It is 74 feet in length overall, and, like its predecessor, it has a diesel tank available, should there be a need.
The Solliner from Green Dream Boats
Want to buy something smaller for day boating? The Solliner, according to Treehugger, “at 21 feet … can accommodate up to 10 people in a U-shaped seating area” and is “fitted with four solar panels that allow for navigation without the need for an outside energy source.” The day boat currently features a sun deck, two built-in coolers, and a center table for relaxing and entertaining at sea. This line of small solar catamarans is popular worldwide, and in the U.S., it’s currently sold by Infinity Solar Boats.
Luxury group travel companies are also opting for new, more sustainable options, particularly to environmentally sensitive destinations, like the Arctic. Travel + Leisure laments that much like the situation in Antarctica, the Arctic is experiencing “more ships, more travelers, and ecological impacts due to climate change.” However, the Magazine reports that the French cruise line Ponant hopes to reduce travel’s impact with its new ship, Le Commandant Charcot. This hybrid-electric ship combines power from battery reserves with “comparatively cleaner-burning liquid natural gas,” which should “reduce, though not eliminate, carbon emissions” on voyages to “Greenland, Iceland, and Norway’s Jan Mayen Island.” Later season adventures are scheduled to include trips to the “Geographic North Pole … before transiting the Northwest Passage during the month of September,” reveals Travel + Leisure. And make no mistake, this embracing of green technology has in no way reduced the extraordinary luxury of the amenities and accommodations. With 68 suites, a huge infinity pool, an indoor swimming pool, a spa, two restaurants, and a “snow room” available to guests, this hybrid-electric cruise will raise the game for anyone offering tours to the region.
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