A boat that uses zero fossil fuels prepares to take its 6-year voyage across the world. Named as Energy Observer, it is an attempt to prove that renewable energy is indeed the future.
It is formerly a multi-hull race boat made into a vessel. Standing by its name, Energy Observers runs on solar panels, wind turbines and a hydrogen fuel cell system. It is the world’s first self-sufficient boat powered by emission-free energy.
Waiting for its first sailing from the Brittany port next spring, the boat is now in a shipyard in Saint-Malo. The $5.25 million boat is set to take 101 stops across 50 countries in 6 years, with the first one in Paris, France.
French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot is one of the attendees of the project presentation at the UNESCO headquarters. “This boat will demonstrate that there are many solutions for energetic transition,” he says. “All solutions are within nature.”
Before it became Energy Observer, the boat marked success in several open-sea sailing races including winning the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994. Mike Birth supervised the design of the boat in 1983.
The idea of converting this race boat into a 30.5-meter emissions-free beaut dawned into skippers Frederic Dahirel and Victorien Erussard in 2015. Scuba diver and filmmaker Jerome Delafosse support the project.
Erussard tells that he is passionate about new technologies. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed utopian, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future,” he says.
To answer where the power will come from when there is no renewable energy source, he has this to say, “If there is no sun or wind, or at night, we have the option to draw in our hydrogen reservoirs. We will produce this hydrogen in a decarbonized manner through electrolysis of the sea water.”
Florence Lambert, the director of the CEA Liten research institute, devised the boat’s energy system. She describes the Energy Observer as a good example of what energy networks will look like in the near future, being equipped with renewable energies and hydrogen storage system.
It’s not far that we will have hydrogen-powered transportation in the future, Lambert adds. This boat gives hope to that.
In addition, engineering professor Mark Jacobson at Stanford University advocates the use of transportation that combines battery-electric transport and hydrogen fuel cell-battery electric hybrid transport. He now keeps roadmaps for countries to convert to 100% renewable energies by 2050.
Jacobson tells The Associated Press, “I believe that it is fantastic that a boat powered by hydrogen and electricity will travel the world.
“It is an important step forward and consistent with this proposed path to 100% clean, renewable energy worldwide for all purposes to solve energy security, job creation, air pollution, and climate problems.”