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Toyota sails into the future with world's first hydrogen ship

By Mark Salisbury
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - 09:01

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Energy Observer is the first autonomous hydrogen vessel that emits no greenhouse gases or fine particles. This electrically propelled vessel of the future is powered by a combination of renewable energies and a system that produces carbon-free hydrogen from seawater.

Launched in 2017 in Saint-Malo (France), Energy Observer is more than just a boat, as it showcases technologies that will support tomorrow’s energy networks to make them efficient and applicable on a large scale. The Energy Observer team will promote this model, based on a mix of renewable energy sources and energy storage, on a worldwide tour.

This six-year journey is both a human and technological challenge to test on-board technology in extreme conditions and to navigate the first energy autonomous boat around the globe. The crew will be led by Victorien Erussard and Jérôme Delafosse.

Toyota and Hydrogen

Hydrogen is at the very heart of the Energy Observer project and the major reason for Toyota Motor Europe’s participation. The hydrogen powered vessel has a considerable weight advantage (50 per cent of the displacement of the ship) when compared to an exclusive battery storage solution. In terms of energy storage, hydrogen is also key to overcoming the issue of the intermittent supply of energy both on land and at sea.

Tokyo 2020: a common goal for the two hydrogen promoters

After sailing in France in 2017, now in the Mediterranean and on to Northern Europe in 2019, Energy Observer aims to reach Tokyo in time for the Olympic Games in 2020.

Victorien Erussard, founder and captain of Energy Observer said: “We are really excited to have Toyota Motor Europe on-board for this mission. We share the vision of hydrogen as the key for accelerating the energy transition, a vision that we wish to carry to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

Matt Harrison, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Toyota Motor Europe, commented: “Energy Observer is an exciting initiative and we at Toyota Motor Europe are delighted to be associated with such a passionate and dedicated team. This project once again demonstrates the many practical uses of hydrogen that can be developed as we transition towards a Hydrogen Society.”

Toyota has been pioneering hydrogen technology for the last 20 years, carrying out considerable testing in demanding conditions to ensure hydrogen can work as a practical fuel alternative. Hydrogen allows for quick refuelling, a significant driving range and a great emission-free driving experience that is helping to power cars, like the Toyota Mirai, as well as buses, trucks and even forklifts.

During its expedition, as France’s chief ambassador for the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, the Energy Observer team will produce documentary content about concrete and reliable solutions around the world. Their encounters and discoveries will be broadcast through an eight episode series on Planète+ next autumn, and also a web-series that will be shared on social media.

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