Demand for solar-powered yachts appears to be growing
By Ryan Swift | 6 November 2020
Austrian yacht brand Silent Yachts is reporting a banner year, with ten solar-powered catamarans currently under production in its facilities in Thailand and Italy. The company announced on November 4 that it will deliver 15 solar powered catamarans in 2021. There are 11 Silent Yachts in the water now, with 31 sold so far.
In an interview with Asia-Pacific Boating in May this year, Silent Yachts’ Founder and CEO Michael Kohler said that sales continued even amid the first wave of the Coronavirus. As of November, the yard reported that one Silent 55, five of the new Silent 60s and four Silent 80s were under construction. One Silent 80, the largest of Silent range, is due for launch in 2020.
Kohler said that much of his customer base was from the tech industry or the new economy.
The first Silent 60, due for delivery in January 2021, will feature a kite-sail. This type of wind-assist technology has been regaining popularity, with shipping companies now exploring its merits. The sail flies in a figure-8 in front and above the vessel, with advanced software needed to control the sail and generate power. On the Silent 60, the kite will be mounted on the front deck, and the entire system can be stored in a dedicated compartment below the front deck when not in use.
Silent Yachts reports the sale of 12 Silent 60s since the yacht was introduced at last year’s Cannes show. Production takes place at the PMG Shipyard in Thailand, which has recently expanded to meet the demand of Silent Yachts production. Another series of Silent 60s is under construction in Fano, Italy.
The Silent 60 uses silent electric propulsion for unlimited range and minimal vibration. The yacht is equipped with 42 solar panels resulting in 17kWp solar energy production.
Amadeo Migali, managing director of MICAD, which does the naval architecture for Silent Yachts, told Asia-Pacific Boating that catamarans were the obvious choice for buyers wanting an all-solar powered yacht. The main challenge was battery power, which still offers far lower power potential versus the same weight in conventional fuel.
However, Migali also pointed to future technology development in making solar powered catamarans even more competitive. “Even today, according to actual solar power production, it is possible to offer competitive speed and range, keeping under control the problem of the loop speed-range-power-weight,” Migali said.