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Alternative Fuel Yachts Bring Green Tech to the High Seas

farhad azima yacht jay solomon Monaco $ millions WSJ

Alternative Fuel Yachts Bring Green Tech to the High Seas

The environmental costs of fossil fuels are astronomical. From harmful air pollution to permanently scarred landscapes and polluted ecosystems, oil and gas has serious long-term consequences. Environmental consequences are not the only costs of fossil fuel use.

The long-term economic costs of burning oil and gas are substantial and hard to estimate. So much so, in fact, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently published a report on the issue.

Any experienced yacht owner knows that your diesel budget can add up quickly.

This is especially true for owners of large vessels or yachtsmen who enjoy long voyages. Fortunately, however, green technology is progressing.

If this trend continues, yachts will soon be sailing across the world using no fossil fuels whatsoever. Instead, they will be using the power of the wind, sun, and sea to fuel their voyages.

Fuel Costs for Yachts Are Significant


Yachts are a luxury item available only to the lucky few. The finest vessels can cost tens of millions of dollars. Even after the initial purchase is made, there are substantial ongoing costs associated with maintaining such a stately liner.

Estimating the upkeep costs associated with yachting can be tricky. However, Business Insider recently sat down with a private equity analyst who had crunched the numbers on his own vessel.

According to the analyst, the cost of operating a yacht is approximately 10 percent of its purchase price per year. In other words, a $10 million yacht would cost approximately $1 million per year in docking fees, crew wages, supplies, and fuel.

While docking costs and crew wages can really add up, many yacht owners are surprised to see that fuel is usually the largest expense he or she faces. That’s because yachts are not only built to go far, they are also massive ships.

The sheer amount of force necessary to move these beautiful behemoths through the water demands a great deal of fuel. In fact, experts have estimated that owners of luxury yachts can easily spend over $20,000 in gas or diesel for just 10 hours of cruising.

Alternative Fuel Yachts Are On the Horizon

In one of the most progressive privately-funded renewable energy projects to date, Toyota Motor Europe is sponsoring a hydrogen-powered ship built to help find sustainable energy solutions.

The vessel, christened Energy Observer, just began a six year journey around the oceans to find cleaner energy sources. In addition to this lofty goal, Energy Observer is a technological feat in and of itself. It’s the first autonomous hydrogen ship in the world, and its clean fuel system emits no greenhouse gasses or fine particles into the air.

Instead, the ship runs on hydrogen that it gets from the sweater all around it.

While the energy system that powers the Energy Observer sounds like a new and untested technology, hydrogen may soon become an increasingly popular fuel for yachts and boats. In fact, docks are abuzz about the launch of the first high-speed hydrogen fuel cell powered marine ferry vessel in the United States.

The ferry will operate out of San Francisco Bay, and its breaking new ground in familiarizing a new generation of customers with alternative fuel technologies. However, hydrogen is not the only green fuel source that can be useful to power boats and yachts.

In fact, the Energy Observer relies on photovoltaic solar energy, an kite sail, and two wind turbines in addition to its hydrogen desalination system to generate alternative fuel.

Industry publications have also outlined the extensive fuel cell and battery equipment necessary to support alternative fuel infrastructure.

Japanese boat and yacht builder Eco Marine Power is preparing to test its own Aquarius Marine Renewable Energy Project. This project is focused on developing the world’s first integrated sail-and-solar system for boat or yacht propulsion.

This sustainable design is primarily intended for use in shipping industries, but such cost saving technologies are sure to find broad applications across the maritime industry.

Alternative fuel luxury yachts are still under development, but they are certainly on the horizon.

Many sailors and boaters feel a responsibility to help the environment. As a result, as alternative fuel yachts become more commercially available, this green technology may very well take the seas by storm.

After all, yacht owners are always looking for the cutting-edge of luxury, and an engine that makes its own fuel from seawater would impress anyone!

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