Luxury Yacht Stores Wind Power For Later

There’s a long history of boats traveling emissions-free — we’re pretty sure the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, more than 500 years ago, didn’t burn any hydrocarbons. But luxury yachts are a different story, so it’s news when the largest plug-in, hybrid-electric yacht ever, a 60-footer whose motor runs on wind-generated electricity, hits the water.

Pennsylvania-based manufacturer International Battery, whose lithium-ion batteries store the big boat’s juice, made the announcement. The company said the carbon-fiber Tag Yachts catamaran, christened Tang, was launched on September 21, in St. Francis Bay, South Africa.

image via Business Wire

International Battery said wind energy is stored when the Tang is under sail, gathered from propellers spinning in its wake. The batteries can also be charged with a 144-volt charger that plugs into shore power. “The initial thrust and response when engaging forward is vastly better than anything experienced with standard diesel propulsion,” said Tim van der Steene, managing director of Tag Yachts. “It’s quiet and the power is there instantly. It goes hand-in-hand with sailing, which is about moving in harmony with nature, quietly, without polluting the environment.”

The renewable energy also comes in handy, the press release noted, because luxury yachts come with a few things 15th century sailboats didn’t, such as 37-inch flat screen TVs, cafe-sized espresso machines, a couple of refrigerator freezers, a dishwasher, air-conditioning and so on. And just in case, the yacht does have twin 22-kilowatt diesel generators that kick in when the wind dies and the batteries run low.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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