• The Energy Observer Working Its Way To San Francisco!

    Innovation to accelerate energy transition

    Energy Observer is a laboratory where engineers, researchers and scientists are developing innovations, which will make renewable energies a reality for
    all. With this in mind, they put to the test the latest, cutting-edge technologies in terms of hydrogen,batteries, solar and wind power and hydroelectricity
    production in the most demanding and at times hostile environment known to man: the ocean.

    These are tried-and-tested technologies optimised over the course of a voyage spanning more than 30,000 nautical miles. The variety and
    diversity of renewable energies are central to resilient zero-carbon energy systems developed by our engineers with the support of our manufacturing
    partners. The development of reliable, sustainable, noise-free, affordable energy solutions forms the nub of the challenges faced by this odyssey.

    A journey of exploring into the initiatives changing our world

    The mission of Energy Observer

    The Energy Observer adventure is also a historic 7-year Odyssey to meet the pioneers who are innovating to save the planet by reinventing agriculture,
    energy, economy, mobility, and by finding solutions to protect biodiversity. Positive and concrete innovations that are already working and show
    that another world and another future is possible. As the first French ambassador of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN in 2015,
    Energy Observer carry France's message on the need to preserve the planet everywhere in the world.

    Raising awareness among all

    At each stopover, the team meet women and men who are carrying out local and replicable projects. "Energy Observer Solutions" is the showcase for
    this ecosystem of committed players around the world, thanks to short films broadcast freely on a dedicated platform. The Ministry of the Ecological
    Transition, Ademe, the International Association of Universities, Unesco and SDSN support the project in identifying pioneers and solutions around the

    Furthermore, at each major stopover of this Odyssey, the team is deploying an open-access exhibition village designed to raise awareness among all audiences
    of the challenges of the energy and ecological transition. Families, students, elected officials and local industrial decision-makers, all are invited to dive into the
    Energy Observer adventure of playful and immersive way. This travelling exhibition welcomes each year nearly 100,000 people.

    Focus on the 10,000 nautical miles of navigation in 2020

    In an uncertain global context due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 program of the Odyssey had been completely revised, and the main stopovers, notably in Tokyo during the Olympic Games or on the Californian coast, postponed.

    These events did not prevent our vessel and her crew from continuing its long-distance research missions, the longest since 2017.

    all images © Energy Observer Productions

    After a 27-day sea passage from the Galapagos Islands, a Unesco biosphere reserve, having covered nearly 3,000 nautical miles entirely
    self-sufficiently, Energy Observer navigated the Los Angeles River, greeting the majestic ‘Queen Mary’ along the way. Full of contrasts,
    the symbolic encounter echoed the sea change in operation between the past maritime world and its carbon-free counterpart of the
    future: going from an historic ocean liner to a zero-emissions laboratory vessel, which draws its energy from nature whilst preserving

    More than 10,000 nautical miles in 2020
    In 2020, the vessel made the longest sailings in her history with her first transatlantic crossing and the exploration of overseas territories as far as French Guiana, covering more than 10,000 nautical miles. A performance achieved thanks to the total energy autonomy of the onboard systems, an example of resilience that is particularly well suited to the current situation and reassuring for the continuation of the Odyssey.

    A reliable energy mix

    On board technologies, combining multiple sources -solar, wind and hydropower- and forms of storage, batteries and above all hydrogen, are the forerunners of tomorrow's smart energy grids, which can be reproduced on a large scale, everywhere and for everyone.

    Hydrogen, the keystone of the Energy Observer system

    While maritime and land mobility meet ever-increasing demands for power, speed and reliability, hydrogen is currently the only energy carrier that offers a credible alternative to fossil fuels without impacting the environment. By testing an energy system based on a mix of renewable energies and hydrogen produced on board this ship, Energy Observer is paving the way for multiple land and maritime applications that can be replicated at the level of a user, a neighbourhood or even an entire city.

    The 2020 Energy balance

    In 2020, our ship traveled nearly 11,000 nautical miles at an average speed of 4.4 knots. It's still slow, but it's improving year after year. We must not forget that we only consume the energy produced on board! This reminds us on a small scale that we cannot live on energy credit, and that it is more important to go far than to go fast.

    In addition, photovoltaics and wind power have taken a significant place in the energy mix this year. This is essentially due to the fact that we sailed in the trade winds where there is a lot of wind and sun. Hydrogen was less useful because we were often at the maximum of our storage capacity, with full tanks. This was not to the displeasure of the crew, who could afford a certain comfort, notably by using the air conditioning.

    As far as consumption is concerned, electric propulsion only accounts for a third of our expenses, the rest being distributed between life on board (25%), control and command (26%), servitudes (15%) and the Oceanwings® system (5%).

    Energy savings could be made on these electrical consumptions; to be monitored for the future 2021 energy balance!

    The 5th optimisation refit, which took place in Le Marin, in Martinique, was geared around preparing the boat and her systems for some even longer passages, including Pacific. The first task involved the simplification and optimization of the hydrogen chain using the high-performance REXH2®, developed by EODev in collaboration with Toyota, which proved its worth over a 2020 route that spanned more than 10,000 nautical miles.

    Note that the REXH2® fuel cell - compressor – inverter set, installed back in 2019, boasts a maximum power output of 60 kW (though it is operated at around 50% of its potential to optimize its output). Its reduced weight and its compactness, teamed with a level of reliability that has been tried and tested on thousands of cars and heavy goods vehicles, mean that a whole array of new applications can be considered.

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