Minimizing Our Carbon Footprint
The use of solar energy in Amazon river cruises help Motor Yacht Tucano maintain a commitment to reducing the environmental impact in exploring the wild wilderness Amazon. This goal has been applied vessel-wide to ship design, equipment, and ship operations procedures. Crucial to reducing our carbon footprint is our use of two different systems of solar power: solar-electric and solar-thermal. These technologies, tailored to the specific needs of our deep forest explanation, have dramatically reduced exhaust emissions as well as fuel consumption of our cruises.
Solar-Electric System: The M/Y Tucano is a pioneering vessel in the use of solar energy in the Amazon. The solar-electric system generates electricity that powers our ship's launches, our freezers and refrigerators in the galley, our passenger refrigerators and water coolers, our ice maker, and illumination in many parts of the vessel. Through a custom-built switching system and an extensive battery array, a great variety of other appliances vessel-wide are energized by the sun, even at night.
Solar-Thermal Hot Water System: Though this may seem counter intuitive for travelers from temperate climates, the constant availability of very hot water is not really essential in the Amazon. Because the climate is hot and the water in the Amazon generally warm, it is very uncommon for residents to have full-time hot water heaters. The Motor Yacht Tucano does have heated water for showers from two separate systems the most sustainable being our solar-thermal system. An important and significant innovation of the M/Y Tucano is that we do not expend diesel electric energy 24 hours a day to heat water. Most water heaters are a very significant consumer of fossil fuel which in turn creates air pollution.
To reduce our carbon emissions the Motor Yacht Tucano was designed with two fully independent showering systems: one that is solar-thermal and another that is diesel-electric. Every stateroom actually has two separate shower heads in the bathroom, one for each system. As close as our cruises are to the strong equatorial sun, the solar-thermal panels are very efficient at warming water which is stored in a heavily insulated tank on the top deck. Throughout the day and night the warm water is distributed vessel-wide by gravity through its own dedicated insulated piping. Of course, if the day is rainy the water will not be as warm, but most travelers find the water temperature perfectly suitable for their needs. As with most sustainability systems, users have to be game to participate and accept some variation from their normal routines. We are very pleased that our travelers are usually eager to join our Tucano team in the journey of exploration. They see themselves as participants and not just observers and become aware of their energy use and partnership in sustainability.
The secondary hot water shower system, though diesel-electric powered, also has a sustainability feature. The water is distributed under pressure via electric pumps through its own dedicated piping system to a collection of "on-demand" electric heaters in each stateroom's bathroom. This is a considerable savings of energy because it eliminates the need to continuously and perpetually heat large tanks full of water. In an effort to calibrate our energy use with actual necessity, this system is engaged only during specific times of day. While this system does require an adjustment to typical routines, for most travelers it is a simple change in scheduling and the steps taken to reduce our carbon footprint are easy ones. These small changes in traveler personal habits have very large and positive consequences for sustainable tourism and the preservation of rainforests. On the M/Y Tucano, all of us pitch in!
Solar Propulsion - The M/Y Tucano's Excursion Launches: Another innovation for the Motor Yacht Tucano is that our ship's launches are configured to be powered with electric motors which are in turn powered by energy from our solar-electric panels. (Our launches also have conventional outboard motors.) A combination of features of both ship and cruise design make this propulsion system possible. The most fundamental starting point in this confluence of decisions is a small group size for the cruise vessel. The capacity of the M/Y Tucano is only 18 travelers - the ideal size for forest exploration. On our excursions we divide into two still smaller groups of a maximum of nine travelers, each group with a naturalist guide and a mariner driver / woodsman. With at most only 9 travelers in a launch, we can use vessels that are not only seaworthy and comfortable, but can be propelled by electric motors. So it is a confluence of design decisions that make this possible: the ship capacity, the launch size, the next-generation and very powerful electric motors, the deep discharge- capable gel batteries, and the sophisticated solar-electric chargers that keep the batteries energized by the sun. So with quiet motors and the absence of exhaust smoke, our small groups enjoy expedition excursions that are not just sustainable, but also thrilling.