Ship of the future - Energy Observer with hydrogen, wind and sun

At seaZen, a 100% solar powered boat with 0 kilowatts consumed over 1,500 customers, we are particularly interested by the ships of the future. That's why we continue this year to follow Energy Observer. This giant catamaran 30 meters sails with hydrogen, sun or wind. After a year of navigation and a first harvest of breathtaking results, this incredible vessel is again transformed for ever more energy efficiency in real conditions. Here are her most important new developments.

Reminder of the project and our first solar boat meeting in Monaco

The Energy Observer was launched during the summer of 2017. The ports of the Côte d'Azur were among the first visited. Each stop made it possible to make the public aware of the advances of this boat full of technology. Fuel cells are being developed by CEA, one of the world's most renowned technological innovation centers. It is a French technology. A fuel cell is used to power an electric motor with ... fuel! It is not oil, but hydrogen, which is abundant in water. Thus, instead of having electric boats on batteries, we sail on electric boats for which we must refuel. This is very good if you want to keep the same sailing habits as for thermal engine boats to go as fast. The Energy Observer is also a solar boat. Its onboard solar panels are double-sided to enjoy the reverberation of the sea. This type of navigation that we know very well at SeaZen Academy allows to navigate otherwise, it combines the charms of sailing and the simplicity of the motor boat. The Energy Observer is also propelled by the wind. This is no longer Mike Birch's former racing catamaran, but she is still a "sailboat" either with wind turbines or with a matt wing.

During the Monegasque stopover in December 2017, the design team of our solar boat, the Suncy Solar Boat, operated a shuttle between the Monaco Yacht Club and the village in the port of Monaco. A way to discover also the seaZen solar boat tours, accessible today to the general public even out of season.

Energy Observe in front of the Monaco Yacht Club
Energy Observe in front of the Monaco Yacht Club

At the end of 2018, the boat counted more than 10 000 nautical miles, 14 countries and 33 stopovers, for a crew of 6 people and an average cruising speed of 5 knots. An average finally not so far from the speeds of our seaZen.

The news for 2019: technological innovation and meeting with Russia

The ship has been deeply optimized for the new 2019 navigation campaign. 

Energie Observer masts with variable geometry sail all the timeMats with variable geometry sail all the time
Photo 3D Kadeg Boucher

The 2017 wind turbines are replaced by sails, or more precisely by wing masts with variable geometry depending on the wind conditions. Thanks to the mechanical traction of the wind on the wings, it becomes possible to transform the propellers into hydro-generators and thus to produce electricity or hydrogen. This can be very useful for navigation at night or under clouds. In addition fuel cells, which produce as much heat as hydrogen will be optimized. The heat produced is now recovered. These optimizations bring energy efficiency to 85%. For navigation in the far north, it will be welcome to recover all available heat.

To test these innovations in the harshest conditions, the Energy Observer should go to the far north crossing Russia from Saint Petersburg to the White Sea. It will therefore also certainly cross the Russian fleet. A fleet that our readers are particularly familiar with. Indeed, following an incredible historical circumstance, the origins of the Russian fleet have been closely linked to the French Riviera since 1858.

So let's hope "fair wind" to the energy Explorer that we would like to see sail with seaZen again as soon as possible between Nice and Monaco.

Credit photo for the cover by Antoine Drancey