AN INTERNATIONAL ROUND TABLE TO TAKE STOCK OF THE CHALLENGES THE YACHTING INDUSTRY IS FACING IN ADOPTING INCREASINGLY SUSTAINABLE STRATEGIES
A few months after its first edition, the second World Yachting Sustainability Forum, organised by IBI (International Boat Industry) for the Italian Marine Industry Association, took place today at the 63rd International Boat Show in Genoa.
The topic of Carbon Neutrality is as strongly felt in the yachting sector as in any other and despite the fact that yachting, according to official IMO (International Maritime Organisation) data, accounts for only 0.06% of emissions, it is no longer time to look the other way. This is a major challenge and perhaps the greatest opportunity that the yachting industry has faced in recent times. Italian companies are in the midst of a transition that will attract new consumers but also new talent and investments.
“The Genoa Boat Show is not only a leading international event for the boating industry, but also an important opportunity for entrepreneurs and industry operators, institutions, and the press to meet,” commented Andrea Razeto, Vice-President of the Italian Marine Industry Association, introducing this second edition of the World Yachting Sustainability Forum. “As we communicated yesterday at the Boating Economic Forecast conference, the Italian yachting industry is a sector that is constantly growing (+20% turnover in 2022, touching the record level of €7.33 billion) with a remarkable propensity for innovation and exports, of which Italy is a world leader, with over €3.7 billion in exports of boats and yachts. Our companies have realised how crucial it is to adopt increasingly sustainable strategies and readjust business models, in order to respond concretely to the challenges of the future and to new ever-looming regulations, treading new paths and making the most of new opportunities. The topic of sustainability is therefore now recognised as a must in the industry, both in Italy and abroad”.
The conference, moderated by Ed Slack, editor-in-chief of IBI magazine, gathered a large audience of industry operators and was attended by international stakeholders and journalists to resume the dialogue first initiated last June at the Satec Convention held by the Italian Marine Industry Association and discuss strategic issues, including the path towards decarbonisation, proper development of the infrastructures needed by the sector, and the ideal application of new technologies, now increasingly available.
Patrick Hemp, Technical Consultant at ICOMIA (the International Council of Marine Industry Associations), an association that brings together the world’s national marine federations, was called on stage to start the proceedings. He illustrated the results of an initial analysis of the pros and cons concerning alternative fuels and propulsion systems for the yachting sector. ICOMIA commissioned an in-depth analysis from Ricardo, a consultancy with expertise in low carbon technologies that provides innovative and cross-sector sustainable solutions, to identify the propulsion technologies best suited to decarbonise the yachting sector. The study provides useful information for the industry to take joint action in view of 2035 and ultimately towards the EU Green Deal of 2050. “As an industry we spend a lot of time talking about greenhouse gases, emissions, raw materials, production and use. In the coming years there will be innovations and improvements in current propulsion technologies. If we only look at electric we cannot expect it to offer the same range to a boat as traditional propulsion systems; consumer behaviour is crucial. In yachting it is also a good solution to share ownership. And extending the life of boats: with new batteries, which have a lifespan of around 30-40 years, boats become almost new. Recycling is key.” Patrick Hemp also explained how future regulations will bring changes to the industry. “On the regulatory framework, the situation is somewhat complex. In Brussels it takes six years to introduce new directives, but once implemented they will bring major technological revolutions.“
Ed Slack then called to the stage Michele Bolpagni (Aqua Superpower), Jochen Czabke (Seaman Consultants) and Tommaso Negri (PlenitudeBeCharge), who discussed the topic of electric mobility and related infrastructure. “All over the world, but especially in France, electric is doing very well,” stated Michele Bolpagni, Country Manager, Italy Aqua Superpower. “In Italy, on the other hand, we are still a bit behind, despite the large potential.”
A collaborative approach is needed to create a sustainable infrastructure. “It is important to install recharging stations in both the automotive and marine sectors,’ said Tommaso Negri, Business Development Specialist Plenitude BeCharge. “We are active in Europe with 1,700 charging points. We have not installed recharging stations specifically for the yachting sector, but we are also interested in developing the recreational sector; with equal recharging points for both industries“. Pointing the finger at the unevenness of the infrastructure was Jochen Czabke: “There are challenges that need to be undertaken such as standardising the charging sockets”. Further points emerged: the use of the marina, which today is more a ‘parking area’ for boats than a place of usable services, and users who have to learn how to handle boats with alternative propulsion and new services. “I hope that in 2023/24 there will be a growing trend, and that we will close the gap in a short time. One certainty we have is that we will still have to wait two to five years before we will be able see real electrification of both nautical and automotive mobility.”
A second panel discussion was devoted to ‘How can the industry successfully align with new technologies‘. Ed Slack spoke about this subject, joined by Giuseppe Sanchero (Siemens- Energy), Paolo Izzo (Lloyds Register), and Vasilis Gregoriou (Advent) to discuss effective solutions and assess the pros and cons of methanol/hydrogen fuel, with all the limitations and potential of the latest technologies and how yards and infrastructures need to adapt. “The real challenge is reliability in fuel management, and there are also electrification projects in the large yacht sector,” commented Giuseppe Sachero VP Industrial Solution Southwest Europe Siemens – Energy. In the world of superyachts there is a growing demand for methanol and hydrogen solutions as viable alternatives. The focus on sustainability is catching the eye of ship owners who “are asking us for a greener approach,” emphasised Paolo Izzo, Business Development Manager Llyod Register, who added, “There are investors willing to invest in infrastructure. In Italy there is still no legislation or guidelines for hydrogen and methanol“. Markos Vasilikos, Director Adventà Markos Vasilikos, also intervened, explaining the importance of solving the problems related to battery weight that can affect the performance of boats with planing hulls.
Lastly, Piercarlo Smith, Director Deloitte Climate & Sustainability, gave an account of how a country like Saudi Arabia is rapidly changing and paying more and more attention to sustainability. At the end of the round table, what emerged was how truly important it is to team up when tackling such matters and how common dialogue will lead to fruitful results. Aligning sites is important and comparing results will be crucial for charting an effective and correct course towards true decarbonisation.