Sustainability: Motor Yacht Builders – Groupe Beneteau
Groupe Beneteau’s rounded commitment to sustainability includes efficient hull designs, eco-friendly building materials, and offering Volvo IPS and solar power on selected models.
Europe’s largest boating conglomerate, Groupe Beneteau has long been a leader in sustainability and environmental awareness, each year publishing its own Sustainability Performance Report, which shows in detail the actions taken by the Group and its subsidiaries.
Its enormous Boat division comprises 12 yacht-building brands that make up the majority of the Group’s 8,000-strong workforce across the globe, with others employed in its Leisure Homes and Services arms. With production typically in the region of 10,000 boats a year, the Group’s decisions and impact are significant, and boat designs must be as efficient as the production.
“It’s important to note that yacht design takes a holistic approach to efficiency,” says Erik Stromberg, Groupe Beneteau’s Power and Motor Yacht Product Director.
One of the Group’s priorities in reducing fuel consumption and emissions on its boats is lowering weight. It develops its motorboat designs both in-house and with external studios such as Italian firms MICAD, Garroni Design and Nuvolari Lenard, US-based Michael Peters Yacht Design and Slovenia’s J&J Design.
“We have a very advanced engineering and development process that focuses on weight savings,” Stromberg says. “These savings mean that for a given size of boat, we can reduce the size of the motors necessary to push it forward, so reducing the emissions.”
This year, Beneteau will launch the Grand Trawler 62, the brand’s flagship motorboat being built at the Group’s Monfalcone plant in Italy. With two MAN i6 730hp engines, the 19m yacht is predicted to have a cruising range of 900nm at eight knots with 10 per cent fuel reserve. Its extensive range is due in large to a painstakingly designed full displacement hull by naval architect Amedeo Migali of MICAD.
Robert Chaffer, Beneteau’s Product Manager, describes the yacht’s underwater surfaces as “mathematically complex” and stated that it took 300 hours of processing calculations and tank testing to design the 54ft hull. The work appears to have paid off as he says the yacht will be 35 per cent more economical at her optimum hull speed of nine knots than a conventional planing hull.
Groupe Beneteau was among the first yacht builders to adopt the Volvo Penta’s IPS system
In terms of propulsion, Groupe Beneteau applies the essential safety and environment requirements set out in the EU Directive 2013/53/EU which covers, among others, the exhaust-emission limits for marine engines.
The Group’s brands were among the first motor yacht builders to adopt Volvo Penta’s IPS technology. Along with the weight savings in the Group’s development programmes, the revolutionary Integrated Propulsion System also contributes to efficiency, with IPS offering fuel consumption savings of 25-30 per cent compared to traditionally powered yachts of the same size.
IPS is available on all motor yachts by Prestige, which offers Flybridge and Sportfly models from the 420 to the 690, as well as the new flagship X70. The system is also used on Beneteau’s GT50, Swift Trawler 50 – the flagships of each range – and Monte Carlo 52.
IPS is available on selected Beneteau motorboats including the Monte Carlo 52
Having offered solar panels as an option on some of its sailing models such as Lagoon catamarans and the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey line, the Group has started to introduce solar power as an option on motorboats such as Jeanneau’s NC range, Delphia canal boats and Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 41, a model launched in late 2019.
On such models, solar power ensures the health and maintenance of the batteries while the boat is sitting at the dock, on a mooring or at anchor. While underway, solar power can assist the onboard systems such as refrigeration, entertainment and lighting, although the amount of power available can’t absorb all onboard needs and certainly isn’t sufficient for propulsion alone.
Jeanneau’s NC motorboats are among Groupe Beneteau models that can fit solar panels
However, Stromberg says there’s more to come in this area as solar power and the associated technology evolves. “In the future, a combination of larger and more efficient battery banks, fuel cells and electric motors will allow us to further push this technology and solar panels will play a key role.”
Another core element of sustainability for the Group is materials. The woods it uses for interiors are certified by FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), so are farmed and developed sustainably. The coring of many of hulls and decks use PET (polyethylene terephthalate) foam made of recycled plastic bottles. Prestige offers bedding, sheets and towels made of certified suitable cotton and wool, while Jeanneau onboard dishware is made of bamboo.
“Even in the use of materials for living onboard, there are sustainable solutions,” Stromberg says. “Groupe Beneteau is a leader in boat manufacturing in the adoption of new materials and processes. While sustainable materials do not always directly contribute to fuel efficiency, they have a global impact on the ‘footprint’ of the manufacturing process.”
Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 41 is also available with solar power
As such, the commitment of Groupe Beneteau and its brands to sustainability stretches beyond its yachts to production processes and systems. Many of the boat’s GRP parts are injected and infused, which reduces the release of VOC (volatile organic compounds) during the build process.
All the Group’s boats are built at production sites certified under ISO 9001 (quality management), 14001 (environmental management) and 50001 (energy performance), so strictly controlling and reducing their environmental impacts. And Stromberg says the Group’s commitments to sustainability also means working with suppliers to develop a responsible, long-term business approach.
Infusion reduces the release of volatile organic compounds during the build process
Due to its holistic approach to sustainability, the Group focuses on the entire life cycle of a boat and is the largest investor in a facility in France that recycles boats, repurposing and reusing the materials.
Even in the Group’s Leisure Homes division, 95 per cent of the materials used in the three brands’ mobile homes are recyclable.
“There are a multitude of actions taken throughout our design and building process – and at many of our partners and suppliers – that improve sustainability in boating,” Stromberg says. “There are improvements every day, but it’s a continuous journey to which Groupe Beneteau is committed.”
De Metz has announced a bold, five-year strategic plan, Let’s Go Beyond, that aims to streamline operations by focusing on eight boat-building brands..