Article / 17 Jan, 2017
World’s First Hydrogen Ship Promises Potential for Sustainable Shipping

Energy Observer, the world’s first hydrogen ship, is set to make a six-year journey around the world to promote renewable sources of energy. The ship will be powered by electricity generated by the sun and wind, which will be used to convert sea water into hydrogen which can be stored on board.

Supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the vessel will travel around the globe, with 101 stops planned between 2017 and 2022 in the world's maritime capitals, historic ports, nature reserves and at major international events.

Design of the Energy Observer

The promising energy architecture of the boat aims to enable navigation that is 100% energy autonomous, without emitting any greenhouse gases or fine particles.

The journey aboard a laboratory floating in extreme environments will be carried out by those who first dreamed of the adventure: Victorien Erussard, offshore runner and merchant navy officer, and Jérôme Delafosse, explorer and documentary filmmaker.

The zero carbon footprint ship is a flag bearer for the potential of renewable energy in the shipping and transportation industries. 

Making use of such innovative technology is crucial to make shipping sustainable and to limit the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius in accordance with the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Given that 90% of the world’s international trade travels by sea, shipping is an important sector in efforts to reduce emissions.

According to the International Maritime Organization, international maritime shipping emits around 1000 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Unless efficiency is improved, emissions are projected to increase between 50% and 250% by 2050, as shown in the graph below.  

The transport sector as a whole contributes almost one quarter (23 percent) of the current global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and is growing faster than any other end-use sector.

Transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and vessels not only makes environmental sense—it makes business sense. New research suggests that the electric shipping market could reach $20bn by 2027.

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