For the 10th edition of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge (MEBC), the host Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM) is presenting the event’s first E-Boat Rally for commercially available electric boats and has set a goal of creating the world’s biggest meeting of electric vessels.
The MEBC has been focussed on competition among teams from international universities, with 38 teams from 20 countries competing in the 2022 edition. They compete in three classes: Solar Class, Energy Class and Open Sea Class. The Solar Class and Energy Class boats race in the waters just outside the Monaco harbour and Port Hercule, with the Open Sea boats racing from Monaco to Ventimiglia, Italy and back.
There have been some commercial/non-institutional entries in the Open Sea Class since 2018, but the new commercial E-Boat Rally will take this sector to another level.
Bernard d’Alessandri, Yacht Club de Monaco’s General Secretary and a driving force behind the growth of the MEBC, said “Monaco has always been a yachting mecca and pioneer. To celebrate ten years of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge we want to demonstrate that non fossil fuel technology exists and is efficient and effective. What better way to do this than to organize the world’s biggest meeting of electric vessels with a target record participation of 55+ boats.”
E-Dock floating charging platform
A key element for the 2023 event will be the E-Dock, another example of YCM’s innovations and commitment to promoting sustainable navigation. The E-Dock is being developed by MEBC technical partner Aqua superPower as an eco-pontoon built of bamboo, equipped with AC (Alternative Current) chargers and the capacity to recharge 20-plus boats at the same time with a fast reliable supply. In effect, it will be a floating charging platform for all electric boats participating in the Open Sea Class.
YCM in 2019 was the first marina in the world to equip its dock with Aqua’s rapid DC (Direct Current) chargers, which will also be used extensively during the event. Aqua has more installations along the Mediterranean coast and is building out a global network of chargers for the marine market.
Aqua superPower CEO Alex Bamberg said: “We have worked closely with the YCM for several years as early pioneers in believing and demonstrating that electric navigation is the future. For this 10th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, we are pleased to be working alongside the Club to attract electric boats from all over the world as the industry takes off”.
The MEBC originally started in 2014 as the Monaco Solar Boat Challenge, which was one of the first events to feature boats powered only be solar power. It was organized in conjunction with the Solar Boat One organization.
As the technology and innovations in all kinds of non fossil-fuel propulsion expanded, the event opened the competition to other systems and the name ‘Energy Boat Challenge’ was adopted to indicates that there are now solar, battery and hydrogen fuel cell boats now competing.
The Solar Class is still part of the event, and for the Energy Boat Class, the YCM provides universities from as far away as Indonesia with a one design craft with pontoons and cockpit which they can propel with any type of non fossil fuel technology.
The Open Sea Class was introduced in 2018 as the Onshore Class to give the growing number of commercial boats an opportunity to participate in the MEBC. Last year’s participants included Vita Yachts, X Shore, As Larbruna and Sealence. The 2021 Gussies Award-Winning runabout from Cantiere Ernesto Riva was first introduced to the general public at the 2019 competition.
Tech Talks, Industry Conference, Innovation Lab
Beyond the spirit of friendly competition, a main goal of the Challenge since its inception has been the desire to foster a platform where everyone developing green propulsion solutions – both academic and commercial entities – can share the information that will benefit the entire industry and transition.
Daily Tech Talks are held where each of the teams provides insight into their development journey, and the last two editions of the Challenge have also seen a Hydrogen Round Table and an Industry Conference with presentations and roundtables highlighting the challenges & progress towards a more responsible yachting future.
For 2023 an Innovation Lab will be added, featuring the latest advance from industry and researchers as selected the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge jury.
Best of Innovation prizes are up for grabs in four categories: alternative energy system (battery, fuel cells, etc.), alternative propulsion system, new materials, and innovative & sustainable yacht/boat.
Projects submitted must be applicable to the yachting industry and show a positive impact on sustainable development and evidence of bringing something innovative to the sector. Applications to enter opened on the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge website and will close on 15th March 2023. Nominees will be announced at Monaco Ocean Week (20-26 March 2023).
The Challenge itself takes place from the 3rd -8th July 2023. It is produced by YCM in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and support from Credit Suisse, BMW, SBM Offshore and the shipyard Oceanco.