Going Green - With Code [e]

21 September 2009 By Louisa Beckett

Most environmentally friendly yacht design concepts incorporate one or two alternative technologies, such as diesel/electric propulsion or solar panels. The 102-foot (31.2 meter) sailing catamaran Code [e] project, designed by Olivier Racoupeau and his team at Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design (BRYD) in La Rochelle, France, is green from the top of its mast to the bottoms of its twin keels.

It goes without saying that a sailing vessel by definition has a lower carbon footprint than a motor yacht – that is, if you actually use the sails for propulsion rather than just to create a pretty profile. Beyond that, BYRD contends that a catamaran has a more eco-friendly hullform than a monohull. Code [e]’s twin hulls are shallower than a sloop’s, creating less wetted surface and thereby helping to lower both fuel consumption and environmental impact.

Probably the most radical new technology listed in the Code [e] specs are the twin wind turbines integrated into either side of the yacht’s house. These retractable, 1,100-watt units can be vertically deployed when the wind conditions are right, generating energy to top off the yacht’s batteries, then tucked away when not in use. A wind turbine also was considered for a Royal Huisman’s recently launched eco-friendly sailing yacht Ethereal, but it ultimately wasn’t deemed efficient enough to be worth the additional weight.

The composite-built Code [e] cat has 40 square meters worth of solar panels smoothly integrated into its flybridge, which the designers project will collect 35 kilowatts of energy on a clear day. The spec sheet also lists “two hydro generators,” but little detail is provided on how these alternative power sources would work.

At slow speeds, as in maneuvering around an anchorage or in a marina, the captain will be able to use Code [e]’s silent, emissions-free hybrid electric auxiliary engine for up to 15 minutes at a time. The cat also has a traditional, fossil-fuel burning motor as a backup for cruising at speed (max is 17 knots) when the conditions aren’t right for sailing.

In addition to energy generation, BYRD also carefully considered the conservation side of the equation. An “electrical load-shedding system” will manage the hotel-like loads, balancing the demand on the generators. Cleverly engineered air intakes will reduce the need for air conditioning.

Some of Code [e]’s other solutions, such as collecting rainwater to supplement the watermaker’s daily output and using the sun to heat it, have long been practiced by sailors. Others, like the use of energy-efficient LED lighting and lithium ion batteries, as well as ultra-clean wastewater treatment systems, are gaining growing popularity in the yachting community.

Code [e]’s exterior is designed to blend into the environment, according to BYRD, while the interior is intended to allow her owners and guests to observe and enjoy the sea around them. Renewable resource materials such as linens and balsa will be emphasized in the décor. The owner’s stateroom has a private terrace accessed via French doors. Six more guests are accommodated in three large staterooms within the cat’s twin hull, along with space for a maximum of six crew.

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