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World’s first hydrogen-powered catamaran Energy Observer docks at Walvis Bay

World’s first hydrogen-powered catamaran Energy Observer docks at Walvis Bay

By Adolf Kaure.

The crew of the world’s first hydrogen-powered catamaran, Energy Observer recently docked at Walvis Bay during its global voyage.

The vessel’s assistant engineer, Vincent Reynaud, explained how Energy Observer uses renewable energy.

“Water, which is made up of H2O is broken down, with the two hydrogen molecules are converted into 34kW of energy and stored in tanks on top of the catamaran, while the oxygen is released into the atmosphere. This energy is used to power Energy Observer,” said Reynaud.

Energy Observer’s captain, Sanchez Jean-Baptiste, explained why the crew has embarked on a voyage around the world in the first-of-its-kind catamaran.

“The first reason is to test the technology of the catamaran and the second reason is to promote renewable energy,” said Jean-Baptiste.

The voyage, known as the Odessy, started in Paris, France on 6 July 2017. Since then, it has docked at over 80 coastal cities across the world. These cities include London, Lisbon, San Francisco, Kochi (India) before the African leg which started in Maputo, Mozambique.

From Maputo, the vessel sailed to South Africa. After 743 nautical miles from Cape Town the vessel dropped anchor in Walvis Bay, the final stopover of the African chapter of the round-the-world Odessey.

The most northern point where the vessel docked was Spitzbergen in Norway from 9 to 14 August 2019.

Weighing a bulky 63 tonnes, Energy Observer has 202 square metres of solar panels. She can travel at a top speed of 16km/h.

The boat was build between 2014 and 2017 and is worth €6 Million (N$123.18 Million) in insurance per year.

“We have two crews and release the crew every two months in exchange of another crew.”

Jean-Baptiste has described some of the trips across the globe as very adventurous as they often had to travel through storms. However, the storms did not make him any more fearful as he said it only got him scared because of its impact on the solar panels.

Inside the catamaran are two sleeping rooms, a sitting area and a toilet and a sitting room where the crew relax, play games and fill the boat with laughter.

The boat has five fridges filled with food to last an entire trip. The voyage will end in July 2024 in Paris at the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.

The catamaran Energy Observer docked at Walvis Bay. (Photograph by Adolf Kaure)


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