Silversea’s Project Evolution rewriting sustainability playbook

Triple pronged hybrid power source to enable emissions-free port calls

Silversea Cruises‘ next series of ultra-luxury ships will be operated using a combination of power sources – fuel cells, battery technology and LNG.

Billed by Silversea’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Group, as “the cruise industry’s first hybrid powered ship”, the first of two ‘Project Evolution’ vessels is scheduled for debut in the summer of 2023. Silversea inked the agreement with the Meyer Werft shipyard for the new ship series almost three years ago to the day.

Utilising the latest technology, Project Evolution ships will operate using a combination of battery technology and dual fuel engines that use liquified natural gas as the primary fuel.

The big kicker however will be the use of fuel cell technology, enabling the ship to “be free of local emissions” while in port. That’s a first for the industry, RCG says.

Project Evolution graphic | Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Group

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“Silversea’s newest ship class is a significant leap forward in our commitment to sustainable ship design and our journey to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.

“We first announced our fuel cell ambitions several years ago. Through dedication and perseverance, we are now proud to introduce the first ship with large-scale fuel cell technology capable of achieving emission-free port operations.”

“Incorporating fuel cells into our ships now is one example of how Royal Caribbean Group is preparing to use new technologies as we move to a non-carbon-based future,” Fain remarked.

The new hybrid technology allows Project Evolution to achieve a 40% overall reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions per double occupancy when compared to the brand’s previous class of ships. The ship class is also projected to achieve an Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) rating approximately 25% better than applicable International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements.

“Being at the forefront of sustainable shipping design and innovation is a testament to our team’s drive for continuous improvement,” said Roberto Martinoli, President and CEO, Silversea Cruises.

“These advancements support our desire to showcase the world to our guests and to do so in a mindful and environmentally responsible way,” Martinoli added.

Project Evolution’s full suite of initiatives, developed in partnership with Meyer Werft Shipyard, will bring energy efficiency to a new level and will include both first-of-its-kind initiatives and successful features previously introduced such as:

  • Fuel Cell System: this hydrogen-based technology will supplement the main power supply and carry the ship’s total hotel load – up to four megawatts – the first large-scale fuel-cell installation at sea in the cruise industry.
  • LNG (Liquid Natural Gas): a cleaner-burning fuel, LNG-fueled propulsion systems emit less CO2 and 97% fewer particulates than normal fuel oil used on ships.
  • Battery: a bank of batteries supports optimising the overall ship power system, saving fuel.
  • Waste to Energy: newly developed Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) reduces onboard waste volume, resulting in lower incineration emissions.
  • Progress to Carbon Neutral Construction – in partnership with Meyer Werft Shipyard, Project Evolution is designed and built taking into consideration the carbon footprint of ship construction and creating a path to overall reduction.

In 2019, Conrad Combrink, Silversea Cruises’ SVP Expeditions, Tour Operating and Destination Management, told LATTE the Evolution Class of ships will have a capacity of around 600 guests, similar to Silver Spirit and Silver Muse.

“They are going to continue to push the boundaries. Very innovative ships, but really staying true to our DNA in the sense of understated luxury and really focusing on creating the beautiful on board atmosphere that Silversea is used to,” Combrink stated.

Lead image: Silver Muse at sea

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