Vessel Aiming Zero Emissions Round the World Voyage is Launched

The vessel is able to generate hydrogen from 130 m2 of solar panels, two wind turbines, a traction kite, and two reversible electric motors.

The Energy Observer, a hydrogen-powered yacht slated to embark on a zero-emissions around-the-world voyage, Friday was launched into the sea, local media reports.

The vessel, which will set sail next month from Paris, aims to be the "first hydrogen vessel around the world."

"Energy Observer is an odyssey around the world on the search for innovative solutions for the environment. 6 years, 50 countries, and 101 stopovers, to go and meet people who are designing tomorrow's future, and to prove that a cleaner world is possible," explains the Energy Observer project team.

The vessel's expedition will be led by Victorien Erussard, an offshore racer and Energy Observer Captain, and explorer Jérôme Delafosse.

The vessel is said to be able to generate hydrogen from 130 m2 of solar panels, two wind turbines, a traction kite, and two reversible electric motors - understood to be the first vessel to be able to produce its own fuel without any Greenhouse gas emissions. 

Erussard and Delafosse are said to have developed the technology with French research centre CEA-LITEN.

"Faced with the pressing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the development of renewable energies is the clear path forward. However, these energies are by nature variable and intermittent, and therefore require the development and optimisation of energy storage methods," explains Energy Observer.

"Among them, hydrogen, the most abundant chemical element in the universe, demonstrates a little more every day its immense potential as an energy vector capable of recovering renewable energies."

While the technology onboard Energy Observer is small scale and experimental, it showcases what the future may hold for larger, commercial vessels.

Indeed, the idea of hydrogen bunkers is not new, with Ship & Bunker reporting only last October on the SF-BREEZE, a zero emissions ferry being developed for San Francisco.

However, not everyone believes the alternative fuel has a future in marine. In 2015 a project proposal to develop a zero emissions hydrogen fuel cell powered ferry in Scotland was labelled as "silly" and "a waste of taxpayers' money."



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