THE 100-PERCENT SUSTAINABLE ENERGYOBSERVER HINTS AT A GREEN FUTURE FOR BOATING.
In pursuit of a sustainable future, the first vessel to be powered by hydrogen and other renewable energy sources embarked on a six-year tour around the globe. The French vessel, Energy Observer, plans to make 101 stops in 50 countries to display its energy independence and offer a solution for a greener future.
The 100-foot catamaran is actually a refit of a 1983 racing vessel. She won the Jules Verne trophy for team sailing around the world in 1994 under her former name, Formule Tag, and is now serving as a model for emissions-free transportation. On board are six cabins, each equipped with a head and a clean-energy laboratory.
Energy Observer runs on wind power, solar power, and hydrogen generated from seawater through electrolysis. Solar panels cover 1,400 square feet of the vessel, and it’s further equipped with two wind turbines at the rear and two reversible electric motors. It’s the first boat with completely autonomous means of producing hydrogen, according to the French engineering institute, ENSTA Bretagne, which sponsored the project.
“The aim is actually to achieve energy selfsufficiency. This self-sufficiency can be transferred to land applications, such as buildings, schools, hotels, and so on,” says Capt. Victorien Erussard, one of the minds behind the project.
Boaters, however, can view this project as a model for the future of the boating industry itself. According to the Energy Observer team, 96 percent of today’s boats use carbon-emitting fossil fuels. This emissions-free model could serve as a prototype for a wide range of pleasure boat applications.
Though fuel is a non-issue, funding is: More than $4 million a year will be necessary to support the traveling exhibition and keep the journey going strong. energy-observer.org