A $5.25 Million Self-Powered Hydrogen Boat Has Set Off on a 6-Year Trip Around the World

July 15, 2017, 8:40 PM UTC
A picture taken on July 14, 2017, in Paris, shows an aerial view of the river Seine with the self-energy producing multihull "Energy Observer", an autonomous boat powered by hydrogen and renewable energy, that will leave for a world tour on July 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD (Photo credit should read JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images)

A multi-million-dollar boat that powers itself without any fuel has set off to begin a 6-year trip around the world in hopes of launching a movement of emissions-free travel.

The Energy Observer, a former racing boat converted by a team of nearly 50 engineers, designers and naval architects, will use a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell system, solar panels and wind turbines to sail throughout its voyage spanning 50 countries and 101 stopovers. It left its dock Saturday in Paris headed towards the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Associated Press.

The 100-foot-long vessel primarily utilizes sun or wind energy during the day. At night, it harnesses a reservoir of hydrogen that the boat itself produces through electrolysis of the salt water. The team behind the Energy Observer has dubbed the project “the first hydrogen ship around the world.”

“There is no silver bullet to fight against global warming: there are solutions, which we must learn to make work between them,” Captain Victorien Erussard said in an excerpt on the boat’s website. “This is what we do with Energy Observer: to bring together the energies of nature, but also of our society, bringing together around this boat, the know-how of companies, laboratories, start-ups and institutions.”

Erussard, a former offshore racer, is helming the ship along with Jérome Delafosse, a naval explorer and expedition leader of the Energy Observer. The journey is being planned along the way, according to the ship’s website, with a contact form available to host the boat during a stopover. The team says it plans to dock in “capitals already engaged in the energy transition,” places with environmental stakes and major international events such as boat shows and trade fairs.

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