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The Future of Sustainable Eco-Luxury

The luxury world is planning to lead the way in sustainability by changing to net-zero emissions in production and power generation. And travel is perhaps the most important aspect of our carbon-free future.

Companies need to be encouraged to do the right thing. We spoke to Steve Malkin at Planet Mark, a UK company offering sustainability certification for every type of organisation who believes that there are three strong reasons to commit both time and money before it’s too late.

The first is financial. When companies head towards net-zero emissions, they are saving carbon, which means in very simple terms they are saving money.

The second is reputational. If a business is seen to be on a net-zero journey, they are more likely to be resilient, as customers will be loyal.

The third area is compliance, with legislation and regulation coming down the line, some SMEs are targeting 2030 to reach net-zero emissions.

Heesen is a Dutch Yacht maker who specialises in superyachts built entirely in-house and are now concentrating on the next generation of sustainable hybrid engines. I met up with their CEO, Friso Visser, Heesen’s hybrid specialist, Erik van Mourik, and systems architect, Peter Dijkstra to find out more about their future plans.

They’ve been considering hybrid yacht systems for seven years before taking the plunge and building one on spec in 2017, the M/Y Home yacht. The newer 2021 M/Y Amare II yacht takes this further, complete with a peak shaving system, which uses batteries to store the excess power produced by the generators. It means 100% of the power created on board is used. They have also developed the FDHF or ‘fast-displacement hull form’ improving wave profile and increasing efficiency by up to 40%.

“On a 50-metre steel yacht, we typically install twin 1000Kw engines. M/Y Home only requires twin 600Kw engines and still achieves faster speeds.”
Erik van Mourik

Heesen is at the forefront of innovation and technology and should influence the industry to follow. They’re also looking at hydrogen-powered engines where the only emission is water.

Robert van Tol, Executive Director of the Water Revolution Foundation started in the yachting sector with a mission to significantly reduce negative environmental impact.

‘It’s an exciting time for new builds, but we also have an entire existing fleet to take care of, and work needs to be done to upgrade those systems’
Robert van Tol

Closer to home Bentley Motors recently announced a new sustainability initiative based on the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak which will be modified to run on renewable fuel. Various blends of fuels are currently being tested and evaluated, with possible Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reductions of up to 85% over standard fossil fuel.

To break the Pikes Peak record, the car will have to complete the nearly 5,000 ft climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78 mph to cross the finish line in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds.

Bentley’s ambitious and transformational Beyond100 programme will see the brand become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company, with the entire Bentley model range offered with Hybrid variants by 2023 ahead of Bentley being BEV-only by 2030. The adoption of renewable fuel for this project signals the start of a long-term ambition for Bentley, initiating a research and development programme that aims to offer renewable fuels to Bentley customers in parallel to Bentley’s electrification programme. This two-strand strategy is set to maximise the pace of Bentley’s progress towards outright carbon neutrality, as part of its Beyond100 journey.

“We are delighted to be returning to Pikes Peak for a third time – now powered by renewable fuel, as the launch project for another new element of our Beyond100 programme.’
Dr Matthias Rabe, Member of the Board for Engineering.

There is no doubt luxury companies have been slow to respond, but now that they are the technology will proliferate and benefit from accelerated R and D. There are glimmers of hope ahead.



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