Solar-Powered Yachts Highlight the Palm Beach International Boat Show

By Mareesa Nicosia

Tens of thousands of seafarers and hundreds of well-appointed vessels—some outfitted for solar-powered propulsion—are convening under fair skies in Palm Beach this weekend.

The 34th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show displays $1.2 billion worth of yachts and accessories, including everything from 8-foot inflatables to 300-foot-long super yachts.

A handful of those have hybrid propulsion systems that allow boaters to limit their diesel use as they traverse the waterways. Other products include oils, lubricants, paints, and anti-fouling coatings that are designed to lessen their impact on the environment.

“A number of boating industry companies are taking the initiative to deliver more environmentally friendly products to the industry,” says Daniel Grant, spokesman for the Palm Beach International Boat Show.

A sheath of solar panels on the top of a luxury yacht isn’t an uncommon sight, but typically the panels are used to power on-board amenities like refrigerators and air conditioners. Recently, companies like Greenline Yachts have started to deliver products like the 48 Coupe that actually supplement the engine power via an array of 2.4kW solar panels on the cabintop, providing the equivalent power of a small generator. Another company, Silent Yachts, introduced the 64-foot Solar Wave that can cruise 100 miles per day on solar power alone.

Along with the massive vessels, the show offers free fishing clinics for children by Hook the Future (participants get to take home their own rod and reel) and sportfishing seminars for adults hosted by the International Game Fish Association. In-water demos and hands-on product testing will be held in the Intracoastal Waterway.

Good weather—breezy, plenty of sunshine, and temperatures in the high 70s—is forecast for the event, which is the last major boat show of the season. About 50,000 people are expected over four days, including a regional crowd of boating enthusiasts as well as northeasterners who travel down each year or are already finishing up their winter stays in South Florida.