Bill Gates buys world’s first hydrogen-powered ‘superyacht’

It isn’t strange to see billionaires splurge on massively expensive luxury yachts, but many of them are concerned about their environmental impact. Bill Gates is well known for his philanthropy and investment in eco-friendly technology, but sometimes even the Microsoft co-founder buys something ostentatious. This ‘superyacht’ won’t weigh on his environmentally friendly consciousness, however.

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Gates has paid around $644 million for the Sinot Aqua, the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell powered ‘superyacht.’ It is a 370ft long yacht with all of the amenities you would expect. It has room for 14 guests and 31 crew, includes a gym, five full decks and has a range of about 6000km.

It is powered by two 1MW motors, fueled by the super cooled hydrogen stored in massive pressurised tanks. The Aqua even uses gel-based fire bowls to keep passengers warm outside instead of burning coal or wood. It can travel at just under 35km/h.

The yacht does have a backup diesel engine to help it in and out of ports and in case that it runs low on hydrogen, as those refuelling stations are still few and far between.

Construction has started, but the Aqua isn’t expected to be launched to sea until 2024. This also gives Sinot several years to refine the motors and propulsion technology to make it even more efficient while the yacht is under construction.

Many people with similar environmental concerns have criticised the decision to spend such an exorbitant amount of money on a luxury. They posit that so much money could be better spent supporting and investing in electric and hydrogen vehicle projects that could have a wider impact in the world rather than appeasing one person’s whim.

While this may be valid, it is important to note that this is largely a symbolic gesture by Bill Gates. It is to prove that mass transit can also be powered by renewables or zero-admission technologies. Imagine if this kind of project leads to container ships, cruise ships or even the airline industry being able to make the technology work in the long run.