Solar-pioneers Heike und Michael Köhler have spent over 5000 days on board a yacht and sailed over 75.000 NM all around the world. After 23 years using motorboats and sailboats on several oceans, Michael and Heike Köhler were sure that there must be a better way for the energy supply and propulsion of yachts. From 2005 to 2008 they tested alternative power sources on yachts, with energy production and consumption measurements and focus on self-sufficient power supply as well as electric propulsion.
From 2005 Heike and Michael gave lectures about these topics and published a book called «Energieversorgung auf Yachten» («Energy Supply on Yachts»). Based on the results of five years and 15,000 NM of sailing on a test catamaran they started the design and construction of the
SOLARWAVE 46, a purely solar-powered yacht, the first fully self-sufficient bluewater-catamaran.
SOLARWAVE 46 was launched in 2009 and she was was the proof of concept. There are hundreds of solar boats and thousands of electric boats all over the world, but Solarwave 46 was the first oceangoing yacht that powered the propulsion as well as all household appliances exclusively by solar. This includes induction cooktops, stove, microwave, grill, freezers and fridges, air conditioning, washing machine, and water-maker. Even the dinghy motor and the electric motorbike were solar-charged. No fuel, no gas, but a lot of noiseless and emission free luxury.
In 2010 the SOLARWAVE 46 started a rigorous 5 years sea-trial. Heike and Michael crossed the whole of Europe by river, sailed the dangerous Black-Sea, the stormy Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea. This experience of more than 120 weeks was also enjoyed by hundreds of guests and visiting journalists. The functionality and sea-capability of this yacht were fully scrutinised and passed with flying colours. The solar catamaran accommodated 6 — 8 guests with electrically prepared full board, water-production, cooling and heating.
And on top of that the SOLARWAVE 46 was able to power the engines, every day under any weather-conditions, in storms of force 9 as well as in calm weather, with sun, rain, cloudy sky, snowfall and ice. During this period of 5 years there was no need for maintenance or repair-works, neither for the solar-plant nor the batteries or the electric-engine. The generator, which has to be on board for safety-reasons, was working for approx. 50 hours — primarily to avoid becoming rusty. During the same period of time the electric motors worked more than 2.000 hours — without any maintenance.
This was the proof, that this technology is head and shoulders above all other types of nautical propulsion. And that Michael Koehler’s SILENT System is suitable for self-sufficient sailing and life on board.
During the last years, Heike and Michael Köhler have received several awards honouring their R&D about alternative energy production and consumption on boats and their success to implement the results into real life luxury yachts. Today they produce high end yachts in different sizes and layouts that use the SILENT System to provide and manage the solar energy needed for propulsion, household and luxury life on board.