Going Green: VSY Partner with Siemens for Alternative Fuel Research

By Catriona Cherrie

Italian superyacht shipyard VSY are to partner with Siemens and Lloyd’s Register to develop a project which will see the application of hydrogen fuel cells technology on one of their new yachts. The brand new 65m WaterEcho project will be in collaboration with designer Espen Oeino as an exploration of sustainability and raising the consciousness of the luxury yacht building industry.

The global yachting industry is becoming progressively committed to increasing awareness and consciousness of global warming as well as the energy crisis. Yacht builders and architects are looking for more innovative ways to combine quality craftsmanship and performance whilst protecting the environment and building in the cleanest possible ways.

VSY is one such company which is renowned for aiming to be an ethical construction specialist, with a long history of investment in onboard technologies for water treatment, exhaust emission reduction, ‘green anchoring’ systems and other energy-saving applications. VSY is now taking the next step in evolving its ‘green’ superyacht construction and has signed a contract with Siemens and Lloyd’s Register to conduct research into the use of hydrogen fuel cell technology onboard yachts. The partnership was presented at the latest Monaco Yacht Show with VSY and reflects an important shift towards eco-consciousness.

The central purpose of the project is to ascertain and assess the specific safety and technical requirements for feeding the standard VSY electric engine onboard all their yachts in a completely sustainable way.  Thus, VSY is looking to employ the use of hydrogen fuel cells and the company will conduct research into the technical and commercial feasibility of doing this with superyacht engines.

The technology is currently used by several space programs including NASA to propel and power its shuttles and rockets. This involves the burning of pure hydrogen, which produces next to no pollution and produces, as a by-product, drinkable clean water, to create electricity. As long as the engine is continuously fed pure hydrogen, it will never lose charge. Fuels such as natural gas, methanol and even gasoline can be chemically reformed to produce the hydrogen required for such fuel cells.

As this fuel will never run out, and produces next to no pollution yet does produce clean water, hydrogen fuel cells are the most obvious choice for a renewable energy source onboard yachts which can be off-shore for days, even weeks at a time. Hydrogen itself can be extracted in an eco-friendly manner via electrolysis, and fuel cells, unlike engines, do not have any moving parts and are therefore more reliable. 

The shipyard is not only encouraging the evolution of ecologically sound construction of larger yachts but also promoting relationships with international committees and companies to stimulate the increase of environmental stability and clean technologies. We hope to see this technology in action very soon. 

To conclude, VSY's assurgence in recognising both the requirement and the demand for eco-friendly vessels highlights an important movement across the industry, one that both aknowledges the urgency of ocean conservation as well as ensuring there are partnerships and intiatives in place to make a difference. 

By Catriona Cherrie
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