‘Ecolution will awaken interest in the need for a sustainable future and encourage a change in the way we use energy’ Astronaut, Dr Wubbo J Ockels
An environmentally-friendly super-yacht called Ecolution is the latest project to come from former astronaut, physicist and professor, Dr Wubbo Ockels. The first Dutchman to enter space, on-board Challenger in 1985, he is also known for sustainable energy projects, such as the solar car Nuna ñ four times winner of the World Solar Challenge ñ and the electric Superbus, one of Holland’s most innovative public transport developments.
The yacht takes sailing to a whole new level by using sustainable state-of-the-art materials that not only make it lighter, faster and safer than traditional vessels but also self-sufficient for fuel and water. Besides wind energy, it is powered by solar panels and underwater propellers. Just one day’s sailing in favourable winds will enable the yacht to generate and store enough power to live aboard for four days without using fossil fuels, while two bio-diesel engines and manual facilities provide fail-safe backups.
An ultra high-tech on-board management system will advise on the sail and course settings, monitor power storage, radar and weather conditions, as well as detect hazards that require attention. Through a simple one-touch-button approach, the yacht can be operated by just two people, even with little boating experience, as well as accommodating four guests.
‘People of my generation would love to sail around the world but worry about comfort, energy supply, maintenance, need of crew, safety and physical discomfort,’ Wubbo explains. ‘Ecolution is the answer because of its philosophy of self-generating power, its spaciousness and the totally new technology for safe boat handling … It will give a feeling of carefree sailing.’
Wubbo first acquired his appreciation for ecology when he observed the planet from orbit and realised its vulnerability. ‘There’s just a thin layer of atmosphere between the Earth and space, where there is no oxygen and temperatures are more than 200 degrees below zero,’ he says. ‘It is essential for our survival that we take good care of our little oasis.’
However, his driving principle is that climate concern should not limit people’s options to entertain themselves or reduce their comfort levels. ‘If we do things in a different way, we can enjoy ourselves just as much, or more, without burning huge amounts of fossil fuel,’ he states.
The Ecolution is a proof-of-concept for what will soon become a series of eco-friendly yachts. It will be on show at a prominent mooring place for the SAIL 2010 maritime celebration in Amsterdam this August, from where it will make its maiden voyage, before being launched on the market.
Dr Wubbo Ockels and artist’s impression of Ecolution
Photo: © Ecolutions BV