Greenline Hybrid Power Boat – Innovation at Sea

March 21, 2011

4:49 pm

Tech Cocktail enjoys reporting about innovation and technology of all types including cars, personal jetpacks, space, watches and more. So today, we’re looking to the nautical world. Boats.

I grew up around boats and even owned one back in my AOL hay-day (it’s name, appropriately, was “Options” – when the stock plummeted, Options was sold). My entire pre-adult life was either spent on or hearing about boats, driving around Maine looking at boats and talking with boat-builders. I heard all the arguments for diesel vs gas engines, learned about the craftsmanship of a perfectly designed hull, the merits of fiberglass, the beauty of a maintained wooden boat, etc. But not much on innovation.

However, in 2009 a company called Seaway – not the one in Oxford, Maine, but the one in Slovenia – introduced a boat called the Greenline 33, a hybrid solar power boat, which began winning numerous design and environmental awards, as well as the title of Yacht of the Year because of it’s “exceptional environmental friendliness, its efficient energy use, comfort and unusually accessible price”. Boattest.com calls it a kind of “seagoing Prius that combines batteries, solar cells and a Volkswagen diesel to create an economical cruiser”. Soon it will also be offering the Greenline 40 hybrid power boat.

According to Greenline,

The mission of this “Volksboat” is to increase the comfort  and reduce the cost of boating in a significant way – while drastically reducing the carbon emission footprint of a boating family.

While some boaters may walk on by because of its somewhat awkward lines and broad roof (where the solar panels go), the Greenline has a lot to offer, and more than anything, offers a glimpse at where power-trains may be heading. Even my traditional dad, Capt’n Dave (who has lived almost his entire life on the sea) called this the most innovative drive train he’s seen,  and an “outstanding system design” that would be the key to affordable boat operation for the future.

While “humour” is listed as one of the company’s top core values, their devotion to efficiency is no joke. The low-drag, energy-saving “Superdisplacement®” hull coupled with hybrid diesel, electric and solar technology brings unique efficiency in its use of natural resources. The Greenline Hybrid Solar is capable of collecting, storing and using power from the sun, which is a breakthrough in hybrid marine technology. With a 1.3 kW solar roof and the Hybrid drive (5kW generator/7kW electric motor integrated in one unit), the boat is a mobile power station that provides a constant supply of electric power on board. All the systems are electronically controlled, automatically charging the battery when there is an adequate supply of daylight or when the diesel engine is running.

The Greenline aims to protect the environment, your wallet and your health, sailing without smoke, noise or waves while in electric mode and drastically reducing the amount of fossil fuel used during a boating season.

According to Boattest.com, the electric motor will move the boat up to 20 nautical miles at 4 knots if the batteries are fully charged, shorter distances at 6 knots, the maximum speed under electric power. The Greenline Hybrid carries a 240-amp/hr bank of lithium batteries that can be discharged 100% and brought back to life, just like the batteries in your laptop or cell phone. Greenline claims a typical battery bank will last thousands of discharge/charge cycles – basically a decade. The maintenance free batteries weigh a fraction of lead/acid cells and take up a third of the space, producing a constant 230 volts for your boat’s power.

Online research shows the hybrid boat is available for 125.241EUR, which would be just under $200K US, but with all the fun updates, you could easily boost the price another $100K or more. Tack on another $40K+ for freight and customs. Seaway is the biggest world developmental nautical company, formed out of the design studio J&J Design, founded in 1983 by the brothers Jernej and Japec Jakopin.

Watch the video below to see how the Greenline Hybrid works.

Hat tip to Matt H for introducing me to Greenline.

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Jen Consalvo is the Cofounder and COO of Tech.Co. She previously worked in product development for almost 13 years at AOL for audiences of millions. Follow her on Twitter at: @noreaster.

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