World's first hydrogen vessel 'floating laboratory' visits London

11 October 2019

The world's first hydrogen vessel, the Energy Observer, paid a visit to London on its 47th stopover - the final in 2019 as part of its six-year world tour raising awareness of mixed energy solutions which could be used help clean up the environment.

The emissions-free vessel, nominated as the 'French ambassador' for the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, will remain in London for nine days from Saturday 5 October 2019, docked under Tower Bridge. This floating laboratory – said to be a 'harbinger for the energy systems of tomorrow' - is accompanied by its traveling exhibition at St. Katharine Docks, which is open to the public and showcases the future for mixed energy solutions which the vessel offers.

Having sailed 18,000 nautical miles since leaving Saint-Malo in 2017, the Energy Observer joined London for the final leg of its 2019 tour in Northern Europe.

The UK capital is also home to the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization, which is setting targets to reduce the speed of shipping vessels in order to reduce the sector's CO2 emissions.

The expedition in Northern Europe was marked by many highlights, including the voyage last August to Spitsbergen (in the Arctic) in complete autonomy, powered solely by renewable energies and hydrogen - without emissions, without fine particles and without noises. A world first!

The Energy Observer moored at Tower Bridge. Credit Lloyd Images

Jérôme Delafosse, expedition leader and director, said the Energy Observer had discovered many initiatives deployed by the major capitals of Northern Europe on its travels so far, in terms of energy and environmental transition.

'We also managed a navigation of 5700 km from Saint-Petersburg to Spitsbergen in the Arctic in total autonomy!,' said Mr Delafosse. 'A symbolic moment that reminds us of the urgency to act in the face of climate change, which is particularly prominent in this polar zone. We are very happy to arrive in the UK and discover all the initiatives that are being undertaken here, such as the first ever HydroFLEX hydrogen train, a prototype train that will replace diesel trains to decarbonize the British rail network by 2040.'

Victorien Erussard, president, founder and captain of Energy Observer commented that in the UK, private companies and public authorities have been involved in the development of renewable energies, and so the country had reduced its CO2 emissions by 38% since 1990 – more than any other country.

'2019 is announced as the year in which renewable energies will exceed fossil fuels for the first time. With the objective of increasing the share of renewables to 80% by 2030 - half of which is offshore wind energy - and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,' said Mr Erussard.

Energy Observer, which ends its environmental awareness-raising journey of 50 countries and 101 ports in 2022, is the first hydrogen ship around the world to be energy autonomous. This electrically propelled vessel of the future operates through a mix of renewable energies and a system that produces carbon-free hydrogen from seawater. This technological and scientific challenge aims to test cutting-edge technologies in extreme conditions, to see what technology could also be used on land and to raise awareness on the energy transition.