Energy Observer Will Take a Six-Year Journey Entirely on Renewable Energy
Say this for the Energy Observer: It has options. This unique boat is powered by the sun, wind, and water (from which it gets hydrogen). The French documentarian Jerome Delafosse and his team plan to use it to circumnavigate the globe over a period of six years, visiting 101 ports in 50 countries. The entire journey will be fueled entirely by renewable energy.
The Energy Observer itself is 98-foot-long, 43-foot-wide catamaran, originally built in 1982. (At the time it was the biggest catamaran ever.) Now it’s being upgraded to become the ultimate experiment in renewable energy efficiency on the high seas.
The French research institute CEA-Liten developed Energy Observer’s power system from scratch. The boat’s primary source of energy will be solar. Specially designed solar panels occupy most of its surface. They are believed to generate 25 percent more power than classical solar cells.
Now comes the wind. The boat includes a kite sail for long voyages, such as crossing the Atlantic. In navigation mode, the sail tugs the boat and converts the mechanical energy of the propeller into electrical energy. The boat also features two vertical wind turbines that are seven feet high and developed specifically for the boat. They will produce around 3 kW of power, a tenth of the power needed for the two electrical motors.
Energy Observer will even find power in the water, since it includes a solar-powered electrolyzer. After sea water is desalinated, the electrolyzer can extract hydrogen from it. The hydrogen molecule is then separated into protons and electrons, with the electrons used to power batteries. This hydrogen fuel ensures a third resource, for when it’s too cloudy for solar power and the winds are low.