ENERGY OBSERVER has already logged 10,326 nautical miles. Since leaving Saint-Malo in June 2017, the world’s first hydrogen-powered vessel has visited 33 ports in 14 Mediterranean countries with zero emissions of greenhouse gases and fine particulates.
After returning to her home port of Saint-Malo last October, significant upgrades have been made to ENERGY OBSERVER in preparation for her next challenge: Northern Europe.
The upgrade program includes increasing the surface area of solar panels, optimizing the heat storage system and installing a truly disruptive technology for wind propulsion: two fully automated, self-supporting and rotating Oceanwings rigid sails, which will increase the speed of the vessel and generate hydrogen underway using a seawater electrolysis process. This technology has yet to be tested on such a large vessel, and has the potential to revolutionize the future of shipping.
These multiple sources of intermittent renewable energy and storage solutions must be managed and used intelligently to provide propulsion for ENERGY OBSERVER and ensure the safety and comfort of the crew. Achieving this challenge requires the essential presence of an Energy Management System (EMS). Its series of controllers coordinate all the onboard systems, and are themselves controlled by the crew via the ship’s central computer.
The development of a dedicated software package using 21 grafcets connected to 200 alarms, 12 analog actuators and 13 digital actuators enables 1050 different data streams to be monitored in real time via the onboard digital network. The result of which is that energy management decisions can now be handled 100% by the system.
ENERGY OBSERVER will set to sea again in March this year to her first port of call in Dunkirk on a permanent heading towards innovation in renewable energy sources and the exploration of practical solutions for the future.