What will the next superyacht launched by Southern Wind Shipyard have in common with more than 400 New York City buses? Absolutely nothing, until you look in the engine room where you’ll find the same diesel-electric power and propulsion technology from BAE Systems.
The SW96#04, due for delivery next summer, is Southern Wind’s first yacht with a hybrid drive, a major milestone for the shipyard. And their next diesel-electric project is already taking shape: the brand new SW108 Hybrid which has already been sold for delivery winter 2023. If the current level of interest from clients is sustained, Southern Wind expects to be building up to – two hybrid-powered yachts per year going forward.
It might seem strange to source a hybrid drive from the public transport industry rather than using a system designed from the outset specifically for marine use, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Most if not all of the commercial marine diesel-electric hybrid systems currently on the market are far too big for a 29-meter (96ft) sailing yacht and the leisure marine systems are much too small.
The suppliers at both ends of the spectrum don’t see enough demand to upscale or downsize their existing products, so there’s a gap in the middle of the market from around 200 to 400kW (roughly 300 to 500hp). Or rather, there was a gap that BAE Systems has now filled, in partnership with Southern Wind. Read on.