Andre Hoek on superyacht design in the age of climate change

AMSTERDAM – Superyacht builders are at pains to improve environmental performance, says Dutch yacht designer Andre Hoek. They focus “on substantive reduction of environmental impacts” by shifting to electric and hybrid.

“A large sailing yacht is being built now designed for no fossil fuel dependency,” Hoek says in a recent Metstrade newsletter interview. “Another 60m sailing yacht … will have a 5MW lithium battery bank weighing 25 ton, the same weight it would usually carry in fuel.”

Owner of the Hoek Design studio of the Netherlands, Hoek is the jury chairman of the DAME Design Awards at the annual Metstrade show in Amsterdam – the world’s biggest B2B leisure marine equipment event. The jury will take entries from mid-July for the awards contest at the 2022 Metstrade (Nov. 15-17).

In the Metstrade newsletter interview, Hoek offers a glimpse of marine sector issues in play today that draw jurors’ attention. He makes these points:

  • Diesel engines are becoming more of a backup than a primary power source as battery technology makes fast tracks. “Some diesel-electric builds are being constructed to be upgradeable when the technology and regulatory requirements catch up.”
  • Starting with diesel-electric power using an electric propeller makes it easier in the future to swap out the engines for a fuel cell, a battery bank, or a combination of the two. “There’s a 100m motor yacht under construction with two engine rooms, one for conventional engines, the other for hydrogen power.”
  • Sailing yacht designers increasingly work on motor yachts “because we have always had to focus on efficiency.”
  • Classification societies must do better. They can insist on a lot of onboard lithium battery capacity. Current class rules “are so difficult that clients have asked us to change the specification back to lead-acid cells and greater engine capacity. That’s the opposite of what you want to happen!”
  • A hefty equipment headache: poor installation, “which may not directly be the equipment maker’s fault. Good design of the equipment and any accompanying resources “can help improve the situation.”

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