One of the first LNG-electric powered inland vessels in Europe, launched by Peters Shipyards in collaboration with Vripack, is part of a growing movement of sophisticated commercial vessels being built to run on LNG.
 
Of relevance to the superyacht industry is that this technology on board tanker, Greenstream could theoretically be transferred to superyachts.
 
“Greenstream tanker is a key example of the feasibility of LNG for yachts now,” said Vripack's Bart Bouwhuis.

“It’s a 110m boat, but there’s a very compact engine room because it’s a tanker and you therefore have to have [lots of room for] cargo hold. Engine room and tank storage are relatively small so you don’t need a 90m megayacht to get this technology integrated. A 50/60m yacht with this technology is feasible.”
 
The big problems that have stood in the way of LNG being adopted in the commercial sector are not design, but LNG availability and regulation, but these obstacles are fast being eroded.
 
Firstly there is a Europe-wide operation underway to build more LNG bunkering stations, particularly on the North Sea Coast. The European Commission recently set aside €2 billion to equip 139 seaports with LNG bunker stations by 2025, and in Rotterdam an LNG plan is in place to have 100 ships running at its docks by 2015.


 Greenstream's technlogy could be useful for LNG superyacht projects

Bouwhuis says this is now closing the historic gap of supply and demand. “LNG bunkering stations has been in a bit of a chicken and egg situation; commercial shippers say LNG is smart, interesting - 'where can I bunker?', the stations say 'where are my clients?', but it’s getting solved now.”

This availability won't necessarily provide an incentive for superyacht owners to build LNG vessels, but the increased focus on the environment, with MARPOL sulphur emission regulations coming into effect by as early as 2016, means there is a stronger global consensus to 'go green'.


'Passion' not economy will be the first driving force for owners to get into LNG

Using LNG instead of diesel engines can reduce CO² emissions by 25 per cent per vessel and cut sulphur emissions by 80 per cent according to the IMO. International shipping will account for about 18 per cent of the world's CO² emissions by 2050, if it goes unchecked, according to current diesel practices. Not the bandwagon a responsible and right thinking UHNWI would like to be on. Bouwhuis predicts that for yachts the motive will have to be passion, whereas in commercial there is a logical incentive for the long term economy saving that LNG offers:
 
“At the moment LNG is not much cheaper than fuel; it’s an expensive installation – in commercial shipping you have ROI every 5 to 8 years, in yachting it’s a different thing. But then again, more passion is involved. In time owners will be really interested in going green, going smarter, which is the case with LNG.”
 
Bouwhuis testifies to the growing uptake of LNG in commercial vessels. He predicts the same upswing in momentum will reach yachts soon, with funding to accelerate regulation and bunkering helping the process of adoption.

"It will take more time to get LNG established and accepted and all preconceptions that it is dangerous [gone], which is not the case…but it will be out there in five to ten years."

LNG will have its viability as a superyacht fuel scrutinised by a panel of experts at the forthcoming Superyacht Environment & MARPOL Management Meeting, taking place in Barcelona on 25 June.

The cost to attend this management meeting, including lunch and an exclusive networking dinner, is just € 400.00. Click here to register your attendance, or call +44 (0) 20 7801 1014 to register over the phone with Suzie. Alternatively you can email her on suzie@thesuperyachtgroup.com.

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