Sustainability: Motor Yacht Builders – CL Yachts
CL Yachts is already benefiting from parent company Cheoy Lee’s wide-ranging expertise such as its extensive investment in carbon-fibre and solar power.
CL Yachts installed solar power on a CLB72 following an owner’s request
CL Yachts was only launched in 2018, but it has already produced one motor yacht with solar panels due to its design and engineering capacity as a brand of Cheoy Lee, meaning it shares expertise and facilities in Hong Kong and Guangdong with one of Asia’s most pioneering, historic boat builders.
One of the first hulls of the CLB72 – quickly established as CL Yachts’ most popular model so far – features six solar panels on the hardtop at the request of the owner. Solar power can be implemented on its other models upon request.
Hans Lo, Deputy Director of CL Yachts, says: “For that CLB72, the solar panels supply enough power to keep appliances running without having to rely on generators or shore power. When owners ask for solar power, we study their requirements and offer a solution that fits the usage.
CL Yachts builds from 65-96ft and has experience of solar power through parent company Cheoy Lee
“For some, this might mean enough power to keep appliances on throughout the year when the yacht’s not in use. For others, it might be enough for a day’s activities at anchor. This is just one way in which we encourage sustainability.”
Parent company Cheoy Lee has immense experience in using solar power. Its Hong Kong shipyard in Lai Chi Kok features more than 500 2sqm solar panels that yield 230kW of power, enough to cover all daily operational needs, as well as give back to the local grid.
On the commercial side, Cheoy Lee is developing 35-40m carbon-fibre catamaran ferries that will each use over 100sqm of solar panels. These charge battery banks that power a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system to be used in speed-restricted areas.
Solar panels at the Lai Chi Kok shipyard in Hong Kong
Lo stresses it’s more important to implement such technology on ferries and the likes as the commercial sector has far greater impact on the environment then the luxury sector does, but that CL Yachts benefits from such developments.
“As Cheoy Lee builds for both commercial and luxury sectors, there are areas CL Yachts can take advantage of that other luxury motor builders can’t.”
For CL Yachts, Cheoy Lee’s commercial vessels that operate on a day-to-day basis are an ideal test-bed for such systems and other areas where hybrid propulsion can be studied and refined to implement later in luxury craft, “when the technology is efficient enough to truly make a difference”.
For now, CL Yachts doesn’t think the hybrid technology exists to sufficiently power propulsion of motor yachts of the sizes they’re building, currently 65-96ft.
Inverters at the Lai Chi Kok shipyard
“For many people, hybrid propulsion systems are the first thing that come to mind when thinking about yachting and sustainability,” Lo says. “While this seems to make sense, the reality is that with our current technology, a truly efficient solution doesn’t exist for hybrid propulsion that can generate speeds most clients expect out of a motor yacht.”
Lo says there are different ways CL Yachts strives to reduce its environmental footprint in terms of yacht design including high strength-to-weight ratio and efficiency, which are among “our governing principles for every build”.
Weight-saving methods include using carbon-fibre in the hull structure, as well as thinned, composite-backed marble and light-weight honeycombed cabinetry.
“We definitely build lighter and therefore more efficient seacraft than most yachts available and we do this while adhering to strict RINA guidelines,” Lo says. “While we may not be entirely ready for hybrid propulsion, we’re making that first step and striving towards sustainability. There are many paths to a greener future.”
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