The Energy Observer is the world's first hydrogen vessel to circumnavigate the world solely on renewable energy resources. The catamaran’s plans to visit 50 countries with 101 port calls over a period of six years. So far 8,240 nautical miles have been covered in France and the Mediterranean Sea and in 2020 the Energy Observer will make her way to the Americas.
The former 100-ft racing boat was converted by a team of nearly 50 engineers, designers and naval architects to be powered by a combination of solar, hydrogen, wind and water energy. Propulsion comes from two electric motors, driven by all that generated electrical energy, but it’s the way that’s stored that’s clever. The Energy Observer uses just 106-kWh of batteries, for immediate, buffer, storage and energy demands. It stores the bulk of the excess electricity generated when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing as hydrogen gas. An electrolyzer uses the current to spilt the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The latter is released into the atmosphere, and the H2 is stored in eight tanks, made from aluminum and carbon fiber, which can hold up to 137 pounds of compressed hydrogen. When that energy is needed, the H2 is run through a fuel cell and recombined with oxygen from the air to create electricity, with water as a byproduct.