How far can we stretch the potential of renewable energies – solar, wind and hydro power? Can they create a fully virtuous cycle of decarbonised, decentralised, and digitised energy in real-life and extreme conditions?
Meet the Energy Observer, the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel that has been on an unprecedented expedition to show that a carbon-free energy system is possible.
Mr Victorien Erussard, the ship’s captain, explains how the vessel is powered.
“This boat represents the balance of renewable energy: Wind, solar, and hydro power,” said Mr Erussard.
“We have batteries to store our energy for the short term and as soon as we have a surplus of energy when our batteries reach 100 per cent, we use this surplus by producing hydrogen from the electrolysis of seawater, with a production chain integrated into the hulls. We desalinate, remove the minerals from water, and electrolyse, before we separate the oxygen from the hydrogen.”
By desalinating seawater that gets electrolysed on board to generate hydro power, the “floating lab” catamaran has sailed 50,000 nautical miles since it launched in April 2017. That is equivalent to circling the world twice in terms of distance.