Green Initiatives take to the Seas

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The 100 percent sustainable Energy Observer hints at a green future for the boating industry.

By Carly Sisson

In pursuit of a sustainable future, the 100-percent sustainable Energy Observer recently embarked on a six-year tour across the globe. The French vessel will 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 1983 racing vessel. It won the Jules Verne trophy for team sailing around the world in 1994 under its former name Formule Tag, and is now serving as a model for emissions-free transport and a clean energy laboratory on another world tour.

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Energy Observer runs on wind power, solar power, and hydrogen generated from seawater through electrolysis. Solar panels cover 1,400 square feet on top of the vessel, and it is further equipped with two wind turbines at the rear and two reversible electric motors. It will be the first boat with completely autonomous means of producing hydrogen, according to ENSTA Bretagne.

Captain Victorien Erussard, one of the minds behind the project, states: “The aim is actually to achieve energy self-sufficiency. This self-sufficiency can be transferred to land applications, such as buildings, schools, hotels, and so on.” Boaters, however, can continue to use this project as a model for the future of the boating industry itself. According to the Energy Observer project, 96 percent of today’s boats use carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Perhaps the emissions-free model can be applied to a wider range of pleasure boats.

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The technology required to complete this journey appears to be covered thoroughly, but the issue of funding still looms. The trip is estimated to cost around $4.6 million annually. The crew will need to secure enough sponsors to keep the journey going.

The boat left the Port du Gros Caillou in Paris on July 15, 2017 with Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, on board.

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