Pioneering in Green: Oceanco Talks Eco-Yachting

By Anna Solomon

From the fossil fuels used to generate power to the materials used in build, yachting isn't renowned as a particularly environmentally friendly activity. However, whilst once upon a time yachting was a hedonistic pursuit associated with excess, times have changed beyond recognition. The prevailing wisdom from industry and clientele alike is that to love yachting is to love the world’s oceans, and businesses have been quick on the uptake concerning ways to address the problem of pollution.

Superyachts.com are running a series on the new phenomenon of ‘green yachting’, speaking to the biggest names in the industry about the problem of shipyard’s impact on the world’s oceans. This week, the team of experts at Oceanco have the floor...

“Clients are far more aware of their carbon footprint nowadays,” Oceanco begin, “For instance, the owner of Black Pearl came with the vision of doing a transatlantic crossing without burning any fossil fuel.” In 2019, knowing that the vessel that they are buying or chartering is environmentally friendly is increasingly at the forefront of the minds of yacht clientele.

Indeed, the desire to be green comes from all directions, including international legislation. However, it is apparent talking to the company representatives that the biggest motivator comes from within: “As our yachts travel to the most beautiful ‘environment sensitive’ locations, we strive to exceed the rules even when they have not yet entered into force,” the team explains. Far from being bound by legislation, Oceanco actually works with regulatory bodies on environmental compliance: “We often find ourselves on the frontier of new legislation that is under development, providing input for the base and practical translation of this.”

So how do good intentions become a reality at the Oceanco facilities? The team have much to say about the steps taken to make their superyachts cleaner: “Over the years there have developed more efficient hull designs, used new lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, and utilized new technology such as repurposing waste water, waste heat recovery from the power generators, energy storage (like batteries) and power management systems,” they tell us.

Another major part of Oceanco’s eco-initiative is their partnership with Lateral Naval Architecture and Engineering on their LIFE design - a design exemplified in 109m Bravo Eugenia. The LIFE approach focuses on optimized length / displacement ratio, hybrid propulsion and single tier engine room results, and can achieve 30% fuel reduction across the speed range of a typical 95m motor yacht.

Another case study for a quintessentially efficient Oceanco build is Black Pearl. “She was designed with many eco-conscious considerations,” says Oceanco of the 106.7m sailing yacht, “For instance, she has a large-scale battery storage capacity on board. Under sail power at 14 knots the yacht regenerated enough energy to power the full house load, thus obviating the need to run generators while under sail.”

As well as minimising yachts’ impact on the world’s oceans, shipyards also need to think about the building process itself. Oceanco is currently renovating its Alblasserdam outfitting facilities as part of its dedication to lead by example regarding sustainable practices: “Similar to our 160m dry dock which opened in 2015, the facilities will also be eco-friendly,” they explain, “A system for exterior paint application is being installed, equipped with electrically driven heat pumps that reduce the need for gas fired heating. By using heat pumps, gas consumption will be reduced by 50%.”

In addition to the technological innovations being made inside the Oceanco facilities, the company has lined the rooftop with solar panels that will generate 192,000kWh per year, covering up to 10% of their yearly energy consumption.

Although few could dispute the ethics of green yachting, the only impediment to the cause is the idea that the term is an oxymoron; that yachting, by its very nature, is not green. Oceanco’s response argues that this notion is defeatist; overhauling yachting to become environmentally friendly is a huge task, but doable, so we should not disparage the movement by discrediting it before we have even begun.

The team further add that, although builders are committed to the challenge of green yachting, they are sometimes inhibited by infrastructure which needs time to evolve. “There are rules and regulations that are not always in line with energy reduction and other improvements that can be made to reduce the overall environmental footprint,” says Oceanco, “There may also be an initial struggle to pay the price tag of very special systems that will be installed to make the yacht more environmental green at this time.” The journey to sustainable yachting is long, and the validity of incremental change must be stressed.

The desire to be green is coming in thick and fast from clients, legal bodies, and the industry at large. However, responsibility primarily comes from within Oceanco’s own company culture. It is clear that the team is united in the sentiment that the superyacht industry should be held to the same standards as every other industry, and have their sights firmly trained on meaningful innovation which will “make an impact on sustainability without compromising on quality.”

"We often find ourselves on the frontier of new legislation that is under development, providing input for the base and practical translation of this."

Oceanco

"We often find ourselves on the frontier of new legislation that is under development, providing input for the base and practical translation of this."

Oceanco
By Anna Solomon
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