Lisbon is the current port of call of the ‘Energy Observer’. At least, on paper.
The ‘Energy Observer’ (MMSI 227802680) is the result of a EU sponsored, French-lead, alternative energies research project, applied to shipping. She is the first hydrogen propelled vessel to be built, and is fully environmentally friendly. Hydrogen is recovered directly from the water (H2O) through electrolysis, at a rate of 4Nm3 of H per hour, at 30 bars. Hydrogen is then compressed to 350 bars and stored in the onboard tanks. There are 2 x 4 tanks onboard with a capacity of 322 L each, for a total of 62 kg of hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen is then used to generate electricity.
The ‘Energy Observer’ is a dual keel vessel of the catamaran type. She is 30.5m long, and has a beam of 12.8m. The vessel is propelled by 2 x 41 kW highly efficient electrical motors, turning at 3000 rpm. With a weight of 30 tons, she can navigate at a speed of 8 to 10 knots. Most probably this is still not enough for the commercial deployment of the technology and for its widespread use by the next generation vessels of the maritime industry at large, but this project may be a leap forward, and maybe the start of new vessel propelling era. Maybe one day in the future ships will be able to move away from fossil fuels and use, in alternative, an eco-compatible, fully renewable fuel extracted free of charge from the sea water they sail on. Port bunkering tankers may very well be doomed by then…But still a long way to go at the current pace of development, by the looks of it.
More information on this project can be obtained from their website:http://www.energy-observer.org/en/
During her 1st World Tour underway, the ‘Energy Observer’ will visit 50 countries and make 101 port calls over a 6 year period.
Lisbon should have been stopover number 33 of her tour. According to the published schedule, she was supposed to be anchored in Lisbon when I went there last Saturday, the 22nd September. She was expected to be visible from downtown. That was confirmed by the staff at the accompanying exhibition tent on land, which I visited with interest before I set out on a search for the vessel. But she was not in sight…neither off the downtown area, nor anywhere else within sight in the Lisbon harbour. End-result: no photos. No visits either. A big disappointment. So the only image of her I managed to obtain was the photo of a scale, miniature model on display at the exhibition, and which I share below (for the record, and for the benefit of those who take an interest in this project and prototype):