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While the industry continues debating about how long ago the first hybrid yachts were invented, what is of utmost importance is the modernization of the hybrid concept.

The True Catalysts Behind Hybrid Yachts’ Innovation

The raising awareness of securing a more carbon neutral future played its role in the invention of hybrid yachts. These yachts are a combined effort of eco-conscious yachting enthusiasts, designers, and manufactures striving to preserve the environment without compromising range, speed, and performance. With distinctive qualities of smooth and silent operations, hybrid yachts also account for reduced disturbances for the marine life.

Alternatively, with the steady increase in prices of petroleum worldwide, the need for sporting alternative sources of power became inevitable for traveling. Hybrid yachts continue to revolutionize the industry by reducing fuel consumption up to 30 percent in comparison to traditional yachts, accounting for long-term savings.

How Does One Define Hybrid Yachts?

Hybrid yachts are powered by internal combustion engines as well as one or more electric motors that utilize energy stored in batteries. These batteries are replenished either via the internal combustion engine or the regenerative sailing system onboard.

In most cases, the internal combustion engines on hybrid yachts are fuelled with diesel, unlike hybrid cars that are energized with gasoline. On the other hand, electric motors are powered either by direct current (DC) from batteries or rectifiers, or alternating current (AC) from inverters, electrical generators, or power grids.

Nonetheless, together these contrasting forms of propulsion result in improved fuel economy without compromising cruising range or performance. More importantly, in case of malfunctions, the ability to switch between diesel and electric propulsion on a hybrid yacht guarantees a reliable backup. This adds greater levels of redundancy into the mix, offering yachting enthusiasts’ peace of mind when out at sea.

Different case scenarios of the modes onboard a hybrid yacht depicted using the engine, batteries, and propellers.

Modes of Hybrid Yacht Propulsion

These two methods of propulsion onboard hybrid yachts work in complete harmony to offer increased range and flexibility. They can be configured to complement the individuals preferences – be it enhanced power or better fuel efficiency.

Diesel Mode

The traditional propulsion system, powered by diesel, delivers greater power; therefore, allowing the hybrid yacht to cover greater lengths at sea and reach the destination far sooner.

Additionally, when in action, the heat generated from the internal combustion engine can replenish the batteries. However, at anchor, these engines offer twice as ultra-efficient and fast battery charging.

Electric Mode

The electric propulsion system in hybrid yachts offers excellent maneuverability, zero emissions at low speeds, no vibrations, and noiseless operations. These provide favorable conditions for exploring remote locations and sensitive marine areas.

Due to lesser moving parts and advanced technologies, hybrid yachts account for lesser maintenance and operating costs in comparison to traditional yachts. Better yet the reduced wear and tear on the internal combustion engine leads to longer engine life.

The Mechanism of the Regenerative Sailing System

Modern hybrid yachts utilize regenerative sailing, an innovative concept that enables kinetic energy produced during braking to be converted into electrical energy for reusing onboard. This increases fuel efficiency, reduces brake wear and tear, diminishes wear and tear, and lowers maintenance costs significantly.

Showcasing propellers, electric propulsion/regeneration motors, electronic controllers, and battery technology onboard hybrid yachts.

This is a simple concept: when sailing, the energy generated due to water gushing through the propellers causes the electric motors to act as generators which recharges the batteries onboard. The greater the speed, the more the energy generated. However, the computers onboard control the regenerative sailing process and adjust the force applied to optimize energy capture.

The Drivetrain of Hybrid Yachts

The drivetrain is a collection of components that delivers mechanical power from the prime transferer (i.e., the engines or motors) to the driven components of the yacht (i.e., into the shaft and subsequently, the propellers).

How the conventional engine works in conjunction with the electric motor depends solely on the drivetrain’s design. In practice, there are three drivetrains installed onboard hybrid yachts:

Parallel Drivetrains

In hybrid yachts with parallel drivetrains, the internal combustion engine and electric motors work simultaneously to generate mechanical power. Here, the regenerative sailing system is relied upon heavily to recharge the battery packs.

Series Drivetrains

In comparison, a series drivetrain only receives mechanical power from the electric motors, which is powered either by a generator run by a gasoline engine or battery packs.

This is known to be the simplest hybrid configuration as the process of determining energy consumption is automated. Also. unlike parallel drivetrains, the engines and regenerative braking systems both work to replenish the battery pack onboard the hybrid yachts.

Series/Parallel Drivetrains

Merging the advantages and complications of both types of drivetrains, this hybrid yachts design enables the conventional engine and electric motor to work in conjunction with one another (as with parallel) or provide mechanical power independently (as with series).

Introducing the Sunreef ULTIMA

In 2023, the multi-award-winning multihull shipyard, Sunreef Yachts Eco, announced their newest range of hybrid ecospeeders, the Sunreef ULTIMA. This combines the industry’s lightest custom-engineered marine batteries, an in-house developed solar power system, and hi-tech hybrid propulsion to deliver the ultimate blend of speed, comfort, and sustainability.

The Sunreef ULTIMA makes for a full-proof investment as the environmental regulations become stricter and the demand for eco-friendly yachts gradually increases. With its ability to protect the environment, enhanced comfort, fuel savings, and lower operating costs, this hybrid yacht by Sunreef Yachts is expected to maintain its value and appeal in the years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there hybrid yachts?

Offering the best of both worlds, Sunreef Yachts Eco combines the efficiency and power of traditional internal engines with the eco-conscious aspect of electric motors (supported by advanced lithium-ion batteries) in hybrid yachts. Sunreef Yachts has recently launched a new range of hybrid eco-speeders called the Sunreef ULTIMA in sizes ranging from 44, 55, 66, 77, to 88 feet.  Submerge in a superior yachting experience that is eco-friendly and luxurious.

What makes a yacht hybrid?

The combination of two or more modes of energy to reduce non-renewable energy consumption and preserve the environment from increased carbon emissions makes for a hybrid yacht.

What is the largest hybrid yacht?

A hybrid yacht offers a practical cruising solution for eco-conscious adventure seekers aiming for transoceanic crossings. To date, the largest hybrid yacht produced by Sunreef Yachts is the 80 Sunreef Eco that, like all Sunreef’s yachts, switches effortlessly between diesel and electric propulsion, ensuring optimal performance and fuel efficiency.

What is the range of a hybrid yacht?

Today, hybrid yachts are at the forefront of yachting as they combine the benefits of diesel engines and electric motors to offer unlimited range over different cruising modes. A fully charged battery pack can provide a range of 20 nautical miles at four to six knots on the electric mode. However, it is true that the yacht’s range may be subject to change depending on the speed and weather conditions.

How do hybrid yachts work?

Simply put, a hybrid yacht works by managing its resources. These are designed to optimize energy consumption, which results in substantial fuel savings. Hybrid yachts are not only compatible with generators, but also solar panels, invertors, and alternators which adds to the functionality.

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Sunreef Venture S.A.

Sunreef Yachts Shipyard

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80-718 Gdańsk, Poland

+48 58 769 77 77