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The first American stopover for the vessel from the future: Energy Observer is in Long Beach

by Energy Observer 24 Apr 2021 21:10 UTC 23-28 April 2021

The first vessel powered by renewable energies and hydrogen, the UN's French Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals made landfall in Long Beach on 22 April, during the Earth Day and the Leaders Summit on Climate in the US. This stopover is the 65th on her round the world Odyssey.

  • Energy Observer is a French project that set sail from Saint-Malo in northern France in 2017 on a 7-year expedition around the world.
  • The first of her kind, Energy Observer is a technological triumph: the laboratory vessel powered by renewable energies and hydrogen, navigates the oceans entirely self-sufficiently in energy and produces her own hydrogen aboard.
  • Energy Observer is making her first ever stopover in the United States, in Long Beach, from 23 to 28 April.

After a 27-day sea passage from the Galapagos Islands, a Unesco biosphere reserve, having covered nearly 3,000 nautical miles entirely self-sufficiently, Energy Observer navigated the Los Angeles River, greeting the majestic 'Queen Mary' along the way. Full of contrasts, the symbolic encounter echoed the sea change in operation between the past maritime world and its carbon-free counterpart of the future: going from an historic ocean liner to a zero-emissions laboratory vessel, which draws its energy from nature whilst preserving it.

Receiving a warm welcome from the French Consulate in Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the California Fuel Cell Partnership, the crew helmed by Victorien Erussard brought the catamaran alongside at Pine Avenue Pier in Long Beach.

Consule Generale of France in Los Angeles, Madame Julie Duhaut-Bedos: "It is an honor and a great pleasure to welcome Energy Observer here in the Port of Long Beach, Southern California. This region is developing many renewable energy initiatives with bold goals. The city of Los Angeles has recently stated its ambition to be the transportation technology capital of the world. We are delighted to be able to introduce the Energy Observer, this incredible laboratory for the ecological transition, to Californians and French residents of California. This stopover will help strengthen collaborations between French and American stakeholders to fight climate change together, in the context of the welcomed return of the United States to the Paris Agreement."

The United States of America is the first country to have integrated hydrogen and fuel cell technology in its energy policy, even creating a special day back in 2015, which is celebrated nationwide each year and is dedicated to this energy medium. Since the first oil crisis in the 70s, research has accelerated and certain states like California have imposed some drastic new measures in terms of the reduction in emissions. Hydrogen is used along the whole of the Californian coast, which boasts the highest concentration of cars running on hydrogen (over 7,000 in 2019) and a goal of 5-million zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, compared with 350,000 today.

California Fuel Cell Partnership Executive Director, Bill Elrick: "Hydrogen has a unique role to play in the energy transition as a unifier of renewables and technologies like fuel cells. Energy Observer is a real-world working laboratory and showcases some of hydrogen's best attributes."

Energy Observer is a platform for experimenting with the latest innovations in terms of the transition of our energy systems. She is an intelligent boat, whose electric propulsion is powered by renewable energies: sun, wind and marine currents. However, what makes her truly unique is her ability to store her energy in the form of hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of sea water, a technology which enables the vessel to navigate the oceans entirely self-sufficiently in terms of energy, without polluting the environment.

Victorien Erussard, Captain and Founder of Energy Observer: "We are absolutely delighted to introduce our boat and her technologies to the city's local authorities and the port of Long Beach, as well as to all those in California who are building tomorrow's clean and intelligent energy industries, including Energy Independence Now and the California Fuel Cell Partnership. We're also eager to meet the highly active and enthusiastic scientific, university and even school communities, which are working on these challenges. It's a win-win situation for us as we get to meet specialists who are passionate about the same topics as us and we also get to show Europeans the ambition and scale of the projects deployed in this State, despite its long history fueled by fossil energies. After 3 years spent navigating European waters, we're going to discover and share a whole new level of energy transition in the Pacific, which is just thrilling! We're also quite proud to get the chance to show the Californians that the French are also quickly breaking new ground, both in their area of expertise in the maritime world, and also on land..."

As such, during this week-long stopover, Energy Observer will take inspiration from and document the numerous projects being developed around the production of renewable energies and hydrogen in California by filming the people who are working on this molecule and its potential uses.

From Heliogen, an RH2 production site using ultra-high temperature heat from the sun, to SGH2 Energy Global, which is planning to build a large green hydrogen factory from biomass, and also the future Air Liquide factory to the north of Las Vegas, a liquid H2 production facility in Nevada, which will fuel the West coast's mobility market, as well as Toyota mobility campaign, whose cars and trucks are largely found on the city's main arteries and in the port of Long Beach as far as Lancaster, a city with high hopes of becoming the first metropolis to be fueled by Hydrogen in California. And that's just a handful of the many topics which Energy Observer's team of journalists is preparing to share with you!

Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach, Mario Cordero: "We welcome the Energy Observer project to the Port of Long Beach during this Earth Week. I'm very interested in their work and I plan to follow the news of their voyage around the world. This is an ideal port of call for the Energy Observer vessel, as we have achieved dramatic progress in air and water quality improvements over the years, and we continue to pioneer new advancements in sustainable seaport operations."

Energy and hydrogen are not the only points of interest for the Energy Observer Odyssey however. Indeed, the teams of scientists and journalists aboard the vessel will also be investigating some of the Californian initiatives relating to the battle to combat climate change and the prevention of the associated natural catastrophes like drought, water management and the protection of biodiversity, which is essential for our survival.

An intense, rich and highly varied program is on the cards then over the coming days, which is a worthy reflection of a pioneering State, which is actively involved in the multiple aspects that color the journey towards ecological transition.

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