Black Pearl grabs headlines for being the world’s largest sailing superyacht. But there’s more to this Oceanco beyond her sheer size. In fact, the entire genesis of the project centers on flexibility and efficiency. The owner wanted not just propulsive flexibility and efficiency, but also less electrical consumption. Furthermore, he wanted to maximize the luxury spaces and their flexibility without detrimentally impacting the yacht’s operations. Black Pearl’s hybrid solution resulted from all of this. While there’s a lot of talk in the industry about hybrid propulsion, Black Pearl’s hybrid solution has 10 particular strengths.
First, it’s key to understand what comprises that hybrid solution, created with BMT Nigel Gee. The 350-foot (106.7-meter) sailing superyacht features twin MTU 12V 2000 M72 diesels, each in line with a magnetic electric motor. A gearbox connects them to traditional shafts fitted with controllable-pitch propellers. Three further auxiliary diesel gensets power the yacht’s electrical system. They in turn couple with battery banks. Those batteries store energy that can be used independently of the gensets, when needed.
Now, for the 10 strengths of Black Pearl’s hybrid solution.
1. Silent cruising. When maneuvering or cruising at low speeds, the batteries handle all the work. This means the propulsion, via the electric motors, plus the hotel load. Batteries emit no sound or vibration, too.
2. Quiet cruising. Under sail to 11 knots, or while motorsailing, the auxiliary gensets handle the hotel load and electric motors. The batteries supplement them during peak draws (say, a number of guests are onboard and active). Sound and vibration are minimal.
3. Economical cruising. Black Pearl’s hybrid solution allows the electric motors to serve as gensets in place of the auxiliary gensets. The batteries can, once again, step in during peak loads.
4. Normal cruising. This is just as it sounds: typical superyacht operations. The MTUs take care of propulsion, while the auxiliary gensets handle hotel load. However, because the owner emphasizes efficiency, the batteries are on standby to shave load off the gensets.
5. Boost mode. Black Pearl’s hybrid solution reportedly pushes her to a top end of 18 knots under power in this mode. Both the MTUs and electric motors handle propulsion. The auxiliary gensets assist, too, though further handle hotel load. If needed, the batteries assist the gensets.
6. Motor sailing. Typical motor-sailing operations, in which the diesels or electric motors supplement the sails for speed or maneuvering.
7. Sailing mode. Normal sailing operations, with the controllable-pitch propellers automatically feathering to reduce drag.
8. Regeneration mode. When Black Pearl is under sail, the controllable-pitch propellers can “feed” energy to the electric motors. The electric motors then act as gensets, sending the energy to the power-management system. If there’s no immediate need for power, the energy goes to the batteries for later use. Notably, Black Pearl’s hybrid solution can, depending on conditions, provide enough energy in this mode without using the auxiliary gensets. Oceanco says there’s no detrimental impact on normal guest use or overall operations. It also says Black Pearl is therefore emission-free in regeneration mode.
9. Three-mode house loads. You’ve heard of a “smart” house. Black Pearl is a “smart” yacht. She has a custom electric-management system for hotel loads and systems, including sails. The system features three modes: Client, Client Plus Guests, and Crew. Depending on who’s aboard, the crew selects the appropriate mode via the press of a button. The electric-management system then automatically adjusts power flowing to lighting, air conditioning, etc.
10. Waste-heat recovery. Black Pearl’s hybrid solution puts waste heat to use wherever possible. (Put your hand near any appliance, and you’ll feel it. It’s called waste heat because it dissipates into the surrounding air.)