Michael & Heike Köhler are the Elon Musk’s of Yachting. They travelled the oceans for over 23 years on conventionally powered sailboats and motorboats. They both spent over 5000 days onboard their yachts and sailed over 75,000 NM around the world.
The experiences they gathered during more than two decades at sea led them to conclude that there had to be a more efficient way to supply yachts with energy. After four years of continuous research, the birth of the SOLARWAVE 46 took place in 2009.
It was nothing less than the first ocean-going yacht that exclusively used solar energy for propulsion and provided power to all household appliances on board. This included everything from cooktops, stoves, and the freezer to the air conditioning, washing machine, and water-maker.
In 2010, a rigorous four-year sea trial was initiated in which they crossed the entire continent of Europe by river, sailed the dangerous Black Sea, the stormy Aegean as well as the vast Mediterranean Sea. Throughout the journey, the SOLARWAVE 46 did not only accommodate them with convenient amenities such as onboard water production, cooling, and heating. It did so with an additional eight guests onboard, supplying all the comfort needed for 120 weeks.
Furthermore, it was able to power the engines every day under various circumstances such as rain, cloudy sky, sun, snowfall, ice, and even storms of force 9. Of important note, during this period of four years, there were no maintenance or repair works required on the solar panels, the batteries, or electric motors. The generator, which has to be on board for safety reasons, was needed for less than 50 hours during those 48 months – primarily to avoid becoming rusty. On the other hand, the electric motors were operating for more than 2000 hours over the same period of time.
The four years of dedicated trials were proof that the solar-electric drivetrain they had developed was the answer to the question they were asking themselves. It was the most effective, efficient, and reliable choice for nautical propulsion and self-sufficient sailing and perfectly suitable for an independent life on board.
Based on their unique expertise, they started their company “SILENT-YACHT’s” and developed four full production solar-electric yachts, known as the “Tesla’s of the seas.” They have discontinued their Silent 64 and now offer the SILENT 55, SILENT 60, and the SILENT 80.
SILENT-YACHTS are true world cruisers with the possibility of unlimited range, even when the sun is not shining. In case of extended periods of bad weather, the range extender generator automatically starts to recharge the lithium batteries when they are low. Their capacity provides ample energy for propulsion and all household appliances, including the air conditioning, ice-machine, and water-maker.
With a SILENT-YACHT, there is no need to search for a marina to charge the batteries, get ice, refuel, or fill the water tanks. The yacht can virtually cruise for weeks without fuel or the need to start the generator.
Additionally, all vital components are redundant to ensure double safety. All components’ configuration ensures an overload is impossible, making the solar-electric drivetrain far safer than conventional propulsion systems.
The company now has ten boats under construction, and they are increasing production capacity to produce dozens of electric boats a year.
That may not sound like a lot, but boat production can be a slow process and is difficult to deploy at scale for larger vessels like the SILENT-YACHT electric catamarans.
Depending on the size, they can produce between 10 and 26 kW of solar power and be equipped with 150 to 532 kWh of battery capacity. The latter is the equivalent in energy capacity of more than 5 Tesla Model S sedans.
To meet demand, SILENT-YACHTS has new shipyards in Thailand and Italy. The Thailand yard in Rayong, approximately 220 km from Bangkok, is led by Swiss entrepreneur Philippe Guénat and is the largest privately-owned shipyard in South East Asia. In Fano, Italy, a series of SILENT 60s are now under construction, and a second line is being set up to provide capacity for building 15 SILENT 60s a year.
Starting at roughly $2 million, we are not talking about cheap boats, but the price is competitive with non-solar/battery vessels of that level of capability and luxury.
The SILENT 60 has become the bestseller. The company sold 12 units of this model after its debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2019. Four of them are now under construction at SILENT-YACHTS production facility in Thailand.
“We are proud of our production,” commented Michael Köhler, Founder and CEO of SILENT-YACHTS. “The first Silent 60 will be delivered in January 2021, and more launches are coming following that premiere.”
SILENT-YACHTS also offers the option of a fully automatic towing kite. The kite flies at an altitude of 70 to 140 meters where winds are far stronger than at sea level. The kite takes on a dynamic flight pattern at those altitudes, resembling a figure 8, generating up to 10 times more power per square meter than a conventional sail.
SILENT-YACHTS are true bluewater cruisers. Self-sufficient, with silent electric propulsion, they provide an unlimited range with zero noise or fumes and with minimal vibration, a forward-looking future of what lies ahead for the yachting world.
For more information on Silent-Yachts in Thailand, contact Philippe M. Guénat, General Manager of PMG shipyard, +66 (0)38 010 570, or firstname.lastname@example.org.