Notably on the W150′ mega-yacht project in 2013, electric power technology was built in from the very first designs.
Always with an eye on the future, WIDER have consciously looked to introduce eco technology and green yachting on board their vessels.
The Engineering department actively sought out companies considered at the time the most innovative in their specific fields in order that the WIDER hybrid technology represented the most advanced solutions and zero emissions. This has allowed WIDER to bring together the best available minds and develop a power management software package specifically for the marine environment, particularly suited to each yachts requirements – to provide the optimum in efficiency and performance either cruising or at anchor.
This initiative culminated in the launch of the first mega-yacht equipped with the WIDER Hybrid Management System in 2015. Following sea trials, years of use has confirmed our belief in its green credentials when WIDER was heralded as the first yachting company to introduce electric technology into the industry. Awarded with the ‘100% Comfort Class Certificate’ by RINA, the W165’ followed in 2019 and the results confirmed the ecological and comfort gains of a true hybrid electric system installed on board a yacht, rather than a semi hybrid diesel-electric technology.
Born Electric is much more than a pay-off. It is the aim and the mission of the company. Our efforts are driven creation of the brand W-Tech specifically focused in new systems and technologies that will bring to a complete green technology onboard.
The hybrid power management system on a WIDER yacht offers greater efficiency than is found on a conventional motor yacht as it demands the generators only work when necessary and at their optimum rate of power/consumption. Any engines connected to the alternators run at their most fuel efficient revolution band to produce power which during navigation goes primarily to the propellers, but if excessive energy is produced it is directed to charge the battery banks, so there is almost zero power wastage.
If the battery banks reach a pre-set level of discharge, a generator will automatically start to supply the systems and also recharge the batteries. It takes less than two hours to completely charge the banks which when fully charged supply the systems to ensure a no-noise, zero emission power supply keeping pollution to an absolute minimum.
Traditional yachts run their generators at a constant speed producing a fixed output most of the time when any power is required, consequently as a result, they are in frequent need of services and overhauls. The same is true of a yacht’s engines that run at varying speeds according to the requirements for speed at any time; consuming vast amounts of fuel and needing regular attention and service.
The serial hybrid propulsion on board of a WIDER yacht is different. By connecting the engines to alternators, they can be employed as variable speed generators producing just as much power as is really necessary at any given time; no more, no less. This results in greater efficiency from the engines, less consumption, less noise, less vibration, and, as a result, longer intervals between maintenance. It is WIDER's frequency drives that make this possible, since they take power from the generators or the battery banks and then sensing the overall demand for power on board convert it to what is needed at the time, always assuring the utmost in efficiency and consumption.
Another important and beneficial feature of the WIDER yacht's frequency drives is that they convert the AC power from the generators to DC for battery storage on to a DC distribution bus that works at a nominal 675V DC, guaranteeing considerable power, then back to AC again to power the electric engines or the hotel services. This guarantees the greatest efficiency for the propulsion system and also acts as a voltage stabiliser, eliminating voltage spikes that can be harmful to hotel appliances on board.
All is controlled by a Power Management System that governs power generation, flow and storage and which monitors the generators, their speed constantly checked against the vessel’s requirements for safety, the demand for power when needed and the state of the battery banks. A power management strategy can be adopted or individual profile set up to cater for the yacht owner’s specific wishes too, whether that be noise reduction, high performance, zero emissions, or night mode, all selectable manually.
Zero Emission Mode
One of the most differentiating features of the WIDER superyacht is her serial-hybrid electric propulsion which allows the yacht to be powered in Zero Emission Mode (ZEM). The vessel is equipped with a designated number of endothermic engines, each connected to an alternator to produce the power driving the propulsion option, auxiliaries and hotel services. The power generated is stored in a large battery bank, allowing the yacht to cruise completely under electric power.
As there is no mechanical connection between the engines and the propulsion units, it is possible to locate the various parts of the system in alternative areas than may be conventional so allowing the yacht designer greater flexibility for innovation in arranging the layout of the vessel.
The cruising range or anchorage hours in ZEM is variable and dependent on the power of electric engines, the battery pack capacity installed onboard and the overall hotel needs. The WIDER technology, as of today, offers a cruising use in ZEM of up to 10 hours and the use of all the hotel and services systems for up to 30 hours.
The greatest potential is the absolute peace and comfort that can be offered in zero emission mode, to cruise for hours and anchor longer than an overnight, with no endothermic engines at all, and the entire vessel is run from the powerful battery banks.
The battery banks lie at the heart of the yacht’s serial hybrid propulsion, by storing energy they ensure that power is constantly available for any requirement. The vessel has the ability to cruise in total silence, propelled entirely by battery power.
The batteries themselves are individually managed by a Battery Management System that constantly monitors the temperature, current, charge level, voltage and other physical parameters. These smart boards communicate with each other so that they can balance the charge produced and therefore optimise performance, which can also be interrogated remotely via a 'handshake' authentication process. The state and condition of each individual battery can be checked, averting any possible failure and user profiles can be analysed to monitor performance and plan the best way to use the system in the future.
As of today WIDER use a classical Lithium storage solution guaranteed for 5000 cycles or ten years, whichever is sooner, all subjected to extremely rigorous testing to check their safety and performance including salt water submergence, petrol fire, case penetration and crash testing.
Although in order to embrace new eco-friendly and safer technologies, WIDER is currently investigating replacing these with NaCl salt solution.
This kind of battery offers multiple levels of safety. The chemistry of these batteries is simpler and intrinsically safer, utilising salt and nickel as their primary reactants, the liquid Sodium (Na) recombining into common salt in the event of any cell failure.
Noise and vibration on conventional yachts is generally caused by the main items of fixed machinery; the main engines, the generators, and the propeller shafts. By using electrically powered transmissions, WIDER yachts are eliminating immediately one major cause of vibration.
Through its variable frequency drives the rotation speed of the azimuthal pods or propeller shafts be controlled from full speed right down to just 0.1 rpm.
Additionally, whilst the generators on a conventional yacht will run at a fixed speed, a WIDER yacht can reduce the revs according to the power requirements at the time, further increasing the comfort on board.