Energy Observer celebrates its 2 years of sailing!

Two years ago, on the 14th of April 2017, the first hydrogen vessel around the world touched the water for the first time, after a several year construction project. 

Since then, more than 10 000 nautical miles have been covered, in France, the Mediterranean and lately Northern Europe, without emitting greenhouse gases or fine particles, thanks to a mix of renewable energies combined with a hydrogen storage system, unprecedented on a vessel.  

This Odyssey for the Future, a world tour to find solutions for the planet, not only demonstrated the interest of the public, companies and communities for this project, but above all proved that hydrogen and renewable energies are viable solutions for a cleaner future and mobility, at sea and on land.

The project’s instigators, Victorien Erussard, Captain and Founder, and Jérôme Delafosse, Expedition Leader and Film director, probably had no idea that these years of navigation would be so rich in adventures and technological developments. 

Here is a look at these 2 years of experimentations and meetings, and a insight towards a sustainable future!

14th of April 2017: Launch of the vessel

Energy Observer is officially launched in front of the public, the team and the partners, only 20 minutes after the birth of Georges, Victorien’s second son.

4th of July 2017: Arrival in Paris

After a week of sailing, Energy Observer arrived in Paris, the first stopover of its Tour of France and its Odyssey for the Future of 6 years, 50 countries and 101 stopovers.

6th of July 2017: Republican Baptism of Energy Observer

34 years after its construction in Canada, under the name of Formule Tag, Energy Observer was officially reborn on the 6th of July 2017, during its Republican baptism. Nicolas Hulot, former Minister of State and key patron of Energy Observer, Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, Florence Lambert, Director of CEA-Liten and key patron of Energy Observer, and Bertrand Piccard, President of the Solar Impulse Foundation, attended the event. The latter offered the compass from Solar Impulse, his solar plane, to Energy Observer.

25th of August 2017: Navigation with the French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe

During his trip to Brittany with Nicolas Hulot, former Minister of State and key patron of Energy Observer, the prime minister embarked onboard our catamaran during an hour with the crew and engineers of the CEA-Liten to discover the potential of hydrogen as the energy of the future.

30th of October 2017: Energy Observer becomes the first hydrogen vessel to cross the Strait of Gibraltar

Energy Observer experienced a historic moment as it became the first hydrogen vessel to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. By crossing this emblematic passage, Energy Observer and its crew officially took their first steps in the Mediterranean Sea.

13th of November 2017: Meeting with the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron at the COP23

During the COP23, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron discovered Energy Observer in the presence of Nicolas Hulot. On this occasion they presented Energy Observer with the most famous hashtag of the Bonn conference: #MakeOurPlanetGreatAgain, which is now on board the vessel. 

20th of December 2017: Energy Observer’s last navigation of its Tour de France

After 6 months of sailing and 11 stopovers (Paris, Boulogne sur Mer, Cherbourg, Nantes, Ile d’Yeu, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Royan, San Sebastian, La Seyne-sur-Mer, Marseille) Energy Observer reached its last destination of its Tour de France: Monaco. For the occasion, Energy Observer invited two prestigious guests on board: HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Bertrand Piccard, President of the Solar Impulse Foundation.

28th of March 2018: Energy Observer begins its Mediterranean Odyssey and is appointed first French ambassador of the SDGs

After covering 4,000 miles during the Tour de France in 2017 and a 3-month optimization project, Energy Observer left the city of Marseille for a major tour of the Mediterranean. 

This new start also marked the official support of the Ministry for the Ecological and Solidarity Transition, which appoints Energy Observer as the first French ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN in 2015.

19th of April 2018: First stopover on the southern shore of its Mediterranean Odyssey and first contact with the African continent

After 50 hours of sailing from Cagliari in Sardinia, and after passing the island of Zembra, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the vessel reached Tunisia at Gammarth. An opportunity for Energy Observer’s team to explore this country, the first post-Arab spring democracy, and to discover local initiatives to address North Africa’s environmental challenges.

26th of April 2018: Energy Observer under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron

The President of the Republic granted his High Patronage to the Energy Observer expedition, welcoming the project’s initiative and recalling the necessary effort of everyone in the fight against climate change.

21st of May 2018: The stopover in Israel and Tel Aviv marks an intense leg of the Odyssey for the future

Energy Observe’s longest crossing was made between Crete and Tel Aviv in Israel. The most easterly point of the Mediterranean expedition, the country is heavily invested in high technology, energy, desert agriculture and education. 

9th of June 2018: Discovery of the avant-garde initiatives of the small island of Tilos in Greece

Tilos is the island of avant-garde and political risk-taking. Since 2017, the barely 65 square kilometers island was the first in the Mediterranean to produce almost all of its electricity from renewable energy sources. In addition, it developed a policy for the reception and integration of refugees and showed how solidarity and ecological transition are intimately connected. 

25th of June 2018: Energy Observer crosses the Corinth Passage

The Corinth Canal, 6 km long and barely 24.6 m wide, has separated the Peloponnese from mainland Greece since 1893. A spectacular and symbolic passage for Energy Observer’s crew!

6th of July 2018: Arrival in Venice, new exhibition village and start of the round tables on hydrogen and mobility 

After a magnificent arrival in Venice and a passage in front of Saint Mark’s Square, Energy Observer inaugurated for the first time its brand-new travelling village, composed of virtual reality exhibitions and 360° projections with exclusive content to raise awareness about environmental issues to the general public. It is also in the heart of this village that the team, together with Alberto Sonino, Administrator of the island of Certosa, organized a round table on the13th of July with all the local stakeholders in clean mobility, both electric and hydrogen. Maritime and certification authorities, administrations, public maritime transport, taxis and solution manufacturers exchanged ideas on technological innovations in propulsion.

11th of September 2018: Launch of the documentary series “Energy Observer, the Odyssey for the Future”

From their departure from Saint-Malo to their tour of the Mediterranean, the Energy Observer crew filmed their entire adventure, narrated in an unprecedented documentary series “Energy Observer, The Odyssey for the Future” consisting of 8 episodes of 52 minutes each. After 10,000 nautical miles, 14 countries and more than 30 ports of call, the team revealed the first episode of the series during a preview at the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition in the presence of the Minister of State François de Rugy and the Secretary of State Brune Poirson.

17th of September 2018: Energy Observer arrives in Lisbon to attend the Oceans Meeting, an international conference for the oceans 

After sailing in the Tagus estuary, the ship joined the Praça de Comércio, the central square of the Portuguese capital which has been designated by the European Commission as the “European Green Capital 2020”.  Caetano, the manufacturer of the electric bus using a hydrogen fuel cell, announced the launch of its production in the village Energy Observer

17th of October 2018: Return to Saint Malo for the Route du Rhum with more than 60,000 visitors to the exhibition village

The first hydrogen vessel returned to Saint-Malo’s docks, its home port, after 16 months of sailing. On this occasion, she met the trimaran Solidaires en Peloton and its skipper Thibaut Vauchel-Camus, who took part in the Route du Rhum. Its exhibition village welcomed more than 60,000 visitors!

20th of November 2018: Energy Observer starts its 3rd optimization project

After 6 months of sailing and 21 stopovers (Corsica, Tunisia, Malta, Israel, Cyprus, Tilos, Samos, Athens, Ithaca, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Venice, Bari, Salerno, Bastia, Saint-Tropez, Balearic Islands, Valencia, Tangier and Lisbon), the ship began its 3rd winter refit. On the agenda: optimization of the surface area and yields of photovoltaic panels, work on the recovery of calories from the fuel cell to store energy in the form of heat and improvement of the hydrogen production chain and finally, transformation of wind resources and optimization of hydrogen generation.

10th of December 2018: Energy Observer reveals its energy balance and 2019 innovations at the Nautic Showin Paris

After 10,326 nautical miles covered in France and the Mediterranean, Energy Observer presented its 2-year expedition energy balance. During the press conference, the crew also presented to the public the innovations that will be implemented in 2019, including the installation of the Oceanwings wings, a revolutionary wind turbine thruster.

12th of March 2019: The vessel’s first stopover in Northern Europe

After a 4-month optimization project, Energy Observer began its Tour of Northern Europe and settled at the foot of the spectacular building of the Port of Antwerp, designed by Zaha Hadid. This stopover, which was at the heart of the challenges of tomorrow’s maritime traffic, was marked in particular by the Innovation Mission organized jointly with the European Commission and the FCH JU. The latter focused on green hydrogen and its large-scale deployment. 

Energy Observer also announced at its second stopover in Amsterdam its partnership with the Hydrogen Council, a global initiative launched by 13 multinational companies in the energy, transport and industry sectors to demonstrate that hydrogen, an environmentally friendly energy carrier, that will play a major role in global energy transition.

Future highlights of Energy Observer:

This third phase of its world tour and its two years of sailing marks a turning point in the history of Energy Observer. Pursuing its innovation objectives, it will integrate, in a few days, a new technological brick and assert itself as a demonstrator of tomorrow’s energy networks, while strengthening its role as a major player in hydrogen solutions. Her 2019 Odyssey for the Future continues towards the Arctic Circle, and next year she will take a new transoceanic course with a new program that will be announced at the end of the year.

In addition, Energy Observer is developing its audiovisual content with the continuation of its documentary series, the shooting and publication of a prime time in preparation with the Canal + group. Finally, at the beginning of June, Energy Observer will launch its media platform “Solutions” around the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in partnership with the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition.

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© copyright photo library Energy Observer -
Photos : Patrick AVAVIAN, Leah BALL, Jérémy BIDON, Kadeg BOUCHER, Pierrick CONTIN, Amadea KOSTRZEWA

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Images: Jeremie ELOY, Romain FROGÉ /Wanaii Films, Jean Charles GRANJON/Bonne Pioche, Julien VOIGT, Guillaume LE CORRE
3D images: Kadeg BOUCHER et Quentin CHICHE
Editing: Delphine COHEN
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Visual Identity: Studio Be-Poles
Music: Demusmaker
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