A former 35 year old 30.5 Metre racing Catamaran, the Energy Observer, is now a floating laboratory for new green technologies or applications and an exemplar of the art of the possible today. Energy Observer’s Odyssey for the Future aims to accelerate energy transition through the deployment of renewable energies and green hydrogen. The visibility of viable solutions is hoped will aid the acceleration of the energy transition.
Having sailed 18,000 nautical miles since leaving Saint-Malo in 2017, Energy Observer has arrived in London for the final leg of its 2019 tour in Northern Europe. It is docked at St. Katharine Docks next to Tower Bridge and is there until 13thOctober and is freely accessible to the general public.
At an event hosted by one of the project partners, Engie, the team explained that the boat is powered by an energy mix composed of three sources of renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro-generation) and a complete chain of carbon-free hydrogen, produced by seawater electrolysis. In addition to the hydrogen fuel cell it also has lithium-ion batteries charged by solar panels.
Energy Observer is the first vessel in the world, able to produce its hydrogen from seawater. This is made renewably on the by splitting seawater through electrolysis. At it maximum capacity the vessel stores 62kg of Hydrogen, an electricity store that would require 14 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries for the equivalent. Carbon-free hydrogen is a key part of the transition to sustainable energy having huge potential in both heat and transport.
The ‘sails’ – OceanWings – are rigid wings that are able to optimize the energy input of the wind (by up to 42%) and save energy traditionally allocated to the propulsion of the boat. This makes it possible to produce hydrogen while sailing.
At the event Engie’s UK CEO Nicola Lovett’s said, “For me Energy Observer is a beacon of hope. In the face of a climate crisis that poses a real and present threat to our world, Energy Observer shows that we have the tools – the technology, the innovation – to act, to do something about it.”
The boat emits no CO2 emissions, no fine particles and no noise that could disturb the underwater fauna. Energy Observer is also an odyssey around the world on the search for innovative solutions for the environment. It has currently sailed for 6 years, visiting 50 countries, with 101 stopovers.