Quick Q&A: Innovating green technology with Lateral's James Roy

Written by Laura Nicholls

With plenty going on in the superyacht industry during this moment of change, a positive development has been our need to adapt - both to new small-scale ways of working and large-scale plans for the future. This adaptation has naturally resulted in new ideas and fresh innovations and so, SuperYacht Times spoke to a cross-section of the industry to find out how important innovation is during these times. Here, Managing Director of Lateral Naval Architects, James Roy, shares his view on innovating green technology.        Lateral Naval Architects Managing Director James RoyPhoto: Lateral Naval ArchitectsWhat we see is that innovation is becoming more green, which is perhaps the most technologically challenging concept to develop. There are some very interesting solutions out there, but somebody needs to invest - who do you think is going to be first?

I'm taken back to 2009 when we were coming out of the global financial crisis - at the time I was wondering why there was a sudden focus on green. The green agenda is not new, but back then I think people were, in some way, trying to give justification for purchasing a yacht so as a result, there became more technologies available to make boats greener. We've come a long way since then already, and if we see what's going on in the wider commercial marine industry, there is a real spike in pressure to decarbonise shipping: IMO has introduced limits by 2050 and there's a roadmap on how that will be achieved by 2023, and all of that is driven by regulation. 

We're definitely going to see more regulation due to COVID-19 which will bring opportunity and threat to our industry. We need to innovate and take the chance to piggyback on what's going on in the commercial marine market. Lateral Naval ArchitectsHow important are clients in pushing green technology forward?

Very important. There are quite a number of high-net-worth individuals who have made their capital and want to leave a legacy to the world for philanthropy. There is an argument that investing in technology, to advance science and engineering through building a superyacht is a philanthropic activity, so if we're to, as an industry, attract those people we need to give them a positive narrative around being green. Green isn't just about using less energy or naval architects designing more efficient hull forms, but more of a definition of sustainability. The Water Revolution Foundation and many other good incentives are going on which we can use to push out a more positive narrative to attract people into the industry. Ultimately, really investing in new technology, and being an innovator means taking risks, which we should all carry to as an industry. Aqua super yacht concept by Sinot Yacht Architecture & DesignPhoto: Sinot Yacht Architecture & DesignDo you see any developments in technology that will become more important?

Zero waste. There are parts of the world already, such as commercial vessels, that operate and are required to have zero discharge of any waste. Maybe the ‘leave no trace’ approach will become more prominent and will be another compelling reason to purchase a yacht. It’s very rare that we see a specification for a large yacht that doesn’t say ‘unrestricted global service’ in its operational requirements, so the vast majority of the superyacht fleet are already on their way to having zero environmental impact. I think of all marine vehicles, superyachts are probably the least polluting given the amount of care that's taken in exhaust treatments etc. We're probably one of the greenest fleets in the world.Black Pearl sailing yacht by OceancoPhoto: Tom van OossanenDo you think there is a new future for sailing yachts?

If you’d told me 15 years ago that I could do all my computing on my phone, I would have said, ‘why would I want to do that? There's no to want to do that!’ But this is something innovative, there's been a mind shift and the way we work is now different. Steve Jobs said ‘people don't know what they want until you show it to them,’ so people who like big motor yachts might not like sailing boats, but if we show them something compelling that gives them the experience and looks completely different from anything we know: that is the nub of innovation. It's a long journey, and it's not an easy path.Bravo motor yacht Y718 by OceancoPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / SuperYacht TimesThis interview was part of the eighth SuperYacht Times Webinar. If you missed out, catch up via the video found below. All past and future SuperYacht Times Webinars can be found here.



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