Imagine a catamaran capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean on solar power alone. This catamaran already exists and is one of the multihulls produced by Silent Yachts, a company that produces units that run totally on ‘solar power. This achievement is far from trivial because these are luxury catamarans, equipped with every comfort, such as air conditioning, televisions, a major lighting system, and everything else yachts of a certain type have on board.
The fuel-free propulsion system echoes in the shipyard’s name, Silent Yachts, and in all the models that have been produced to date: Silent 44, 65, and 79. They are all catamarans with large photovoltaic panels installed that collect solar energy and convert it into electricity on board. With this system, the needs of the entire unit at sea, from engines to air conditioning, can be met without using a single drop of gasoline. The most powerful models can develop as much as 20 knots of speed (for a few minutes), while the cruising speed is around eight knots. The philosophy of an owner who buys this kind of boat is not that of someone who wants to go fast, but is more reminiscent of that of sailors in sailing: when it is sunny you sail well, when it is not sunny you go slower ( in the case of sailors the “gasoline” is the wind and not the sun).
Three types of propulsion
- Cruiser: maximum speed is 10-12 knots while cruising speed is 6-8 knots: for long-range cruising.
- E-Power: offers all the performance of the cruiser with the ability to go faster: for a limited time even at 18-20 knots.
- Hybrid Power: In addition to the two electric motors, there are also two diesel motors on board. This mode allows you to use diesels only when extremely necessary by navigating without when not strictly necessary.
A new model, the Silent 55, was unveiled in Cannes, which includes all three types of propulsion with the added bonus of a sail that can be used when it is windy and not sunny. A further possibility is provided in the “Sky Sails” version, which as the name suggests is made of fully automatic “kites” that fly at 100/150 meters where winds are strongest, generating even more energy than conventional sails.