High tech, emission-free boat put in the water

The first hydrogen-powered, emission-free boat of its kind is lowered into the water ready for a six-year trip around the world.

15 April 2017
Photo from the Energy Observer website
By Poppy Jacob

The boat, named Energy Observer, was converted from a multi-hull race boat and has been fitted with solar panels, wind turbines and a hydrogen fuel cell system. It is powered by wind, the sun and self-generated hydrogen.

The boat was lowered into the water in Saint Malo, Brittany, on Friday and will make 101 stops across 50 countries as part of a six-year circumnavigation.

The technology fitted to the 30.5-metre (100-foot) boat, which is also equipped with a kite sail, will enable the production of hydrogen through an electrolysis process.

The idea arose from a Swiss project named Solar Impulse, a self-sufficient solar-powered aircraft. 

"We do not use the same technology, we use a mix of energy sources and we make hydrogen from sea water, but it inspired us a lot", explained the captain Victorien Erussard.

Head of the expedition Jérôme Delafosse states the aim of Energy Observer’s trip is to create "a cleaner future and to share these [energy] solutions with the largest number of people". 

Victorien Erussard and Jérôme Delafosse, both from Saint-Malo, presented their project over several days.

They said: “We had banked on 300 people coming a day, and we had more than 2,500 people every day who came to see the boat and the exhibition, in which we presented all the technologies of the boat." 

Both sailors will give news updates regularly during their trip.

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