British sailors embrace green technology
Two of Britain’s leading sailors, Alex Thomson and Phil Sharp, have announced they are ditching traditional diesel engines and instead are powering their boats without the use of fossil fuels.
Alex Thomson has revealed his new multi-million pound HUGO BOSS, is being built with an integrated electric motor system, charged by solar panels located across the IMOCA 60’s deck.
The racing team has partnered with the marine electric power and propulsion firm Oceanvolt.
Alex Thomson Racing’s technical director, Ross Daniel, said finding the right solar panels were key in order to ensure the boat’s battery power did not fail and jeopardise Thomson’s safety during the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe race.
The batteries are crucial for communication, navigation, and the running of both the onboard water maker and the autopilot. This means sourcing solar panels that can cope with the restricted direct sunlight in the Southern Ocean.
Thomson has said he believes there will be no ‘performance disadvantage’ by going electric. ‘In fact, we think that integrating more sustainable systems could actually deliver certain advantages,’ he stated.
Meanwhile, Jersey-based Phil Sharp started the 3,550-mile Route de Rhum on 4 November 2018 powering his Class 40 Imerys Clean Energy with a mix of solar panels and a hydro-turbine, which is used when boat speeds are sufficiently high. The main engine uses biodiesel, providing backup power in case of light winds and low light conditions.
‘Our racing project is about setting an example to the maritime sector over clean technologies that are currently accessible, scalable, and practical. Our aim is to encourage firstly boat owners and then the wider industry to move away from fossil fuels,’ stressed Sharp, who has also announced his intention to race in the 2020-2021 Vendée Globe in a new hydrogen-electric boat. This technology is already being used in the car industry.
Zero-emission boats are also being explored by Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from the America’s Cup team, Artemis Racing.
The firm has unveiled plans to build an autonomous 45-metre passenger catamaran, that will require no fossil fuels, offer unlimited range, and have the potential to travel at 50 knots. America’s Cup technology, such as hydrofoils and wingsails, will be used in the catamaran’s development.
(above) with solar powered systems
LEFT: Alex Thomson will follow Imerys Clean Energy