Austrian yard has a lot to shout about with new Silent 55, with new 80 foot ‘solar powered’ flagship in the wings

Austrian yard Silent-Yachts is claining its new Silent 55, officially launched at the Cannes Yachting Festival in September 2018, sets a new bar in ‘green’ yachting, being it claims, the first and only affordable oceangoing solar-electric production catamaran. Powered by the same li-ion batteries as used in Tesla cars, but in a more powerful configuration, the Silent 55 has an unlimited range without burning fuel and can do away with the need for a generator to run thhings such as air conditioning or cooking while at anchor - a generator is only required to recharge the batteries in rare cases of long-term bad weather or if higher speeds are required for a longer period of time. 

Silent-Yachts says the 55 is a completely new type of boat that opens a new era in modern yachting. The yacht uses silent electric propulsion for unlimited range without noise or fumes and minimal vibration, is self-sufficient and virtually maintenance-free.

“Solar is a more practical generator of power than wind, hydro-generation or other technology because the sun is much more reliable than the wind in the common holiday destinations”

“Purely solar-powered yachts have become a commercial reality now,” claims Michael Köhler, Silent-Yachts CEO: “Even if we keep a diesel generator on board our catamarans, this is for safety reasons… Solar is a more practical generator of power than wind, hydro-generation or other technology because the sun is much more reliable than the wind in the common holiday destinations. Most people are searching for a sunny - not for a windy - holiday destination. Hydro generation only works when the boat is being moved - not on anchor. When moving, the hydro generation reduces the speed in the same way as it generates energy minus the loss for friction and efficiency. It decelerates the boat twice as much as it generates power. Nobody can beat physics. The efficiency of the panels that we use in Silent-Yachts is 23%, which is strong in today’s world. We use Sunpower panels, by far the most efficient commercially available panels on the market. There is a perception that with time solar panels become less efficient. This is not an issue anymore. Sunpower guarantees 80% efficiency after 25 years. Believe me, after that time span, you will be glad to change them voluntarily, as more efficient panels will be available for much less money.” 

Battery technology problem has also been passed. “Advanced batteries allow Silent catamarans to cruise day and night without stopping”, says Köhler. “As technology improves, we can go faster during the night and the batteries will be lighter due to higher energy density.”

“There is a perception that with time solar panels become less efficient. This is not an issue anymore. Sunpower guarantees 80% efficiency after 25 years. Believe me, after that time span, you will be glad to change them voluntarily, as more efficient panels will be available for much less money”

Priced from €1.4m the 55 was officially launched at the Cannes show last September and the model range now consists of the Silent 55, 64 (from €2.5m) and 80 (from €3.97m). As of February 2019, three Silent 64s, and five 55s were already in the water, with two 55s, two 64s and one Silent 80 in build. 

As for the new flagship Silent 80 - more details and renderings will be revealed toward the end of Feb/early March. The first 80 is to be launched in 2020. Silent says it takes 10-12 months to build the 80-footer and up to 9 months for the 55.