Global hydrogen ship arrives in Antwerp

After a weather delay in its home port of Saint Malo, France, Energy Observer – the first hydrogen powered vessel to circumnavigate the globe –  set off on the Northern Europe leg of her  journey on March 16 and has now arrived in Antwerp.

It is docked in the Port of Antwerp, next to the spectacular Port offices by Zaha Hadid and is the centre of the ‘Watt’s Next’ energy festival showcasing energy transition projects and plans for the future.

Antwerp’s port is the second busiest in Europe (after Amsterdam) and a leader in digitizing the logistics of managing the movement of 10 million 20 foot cargo containers last year. It is also home to an important cluster of chemical companies, a major production centre for hydrogen and an international hub for alternative fuels. It has set sustainable growth and a transition to a circular, low-carbon economy as two of its top priorities.

Visit is marked with a renewables festival

spaceship-like interior of the Energy Observer hydrogen powered boat
Visitors will be able to explore Energy Observer’s interior

Energy Observer will be in Antwerp until March 29. Visitors to Watt’s Next will be able to climb aboard and explore the boat and she will also be welcoming tours from Belgian schools over the next week.

Visitors can also go aboard Hydroville, a hydrogen-powered commuter ferry that operates on the Scheldt river between downtown Antwerps and the inner suburb Kruibeke. It was launched in 2018 and is the first certified passenger shuttle using hydrogen to power a diesel engine. Ferry operator Compagnie Maritime Belge won the Port’s sustainability award for 2018 and is a co-sponsor of the festival and of Energy Observer’s visit.

Energy Observer gets carbon-free hydrogen from seawater

Hydrogen and the exploration of its possibilities is obviously an important aspect of the first H-powered vessel to go around the world. The motors of the EO are electric and can be powered by solar energy or hydrogen. The hydrogen is created from the sea water the ship travels through, with solar panels (and battery storage) providing the electricity required to separate the water into its two elements.

As we wrote a couple of weeks ago, Energy Observer has now travelled over 10,000 nautical miles on its first two trips around France and then the Mediterranean. After the Mediterranean leg everything was analyzed, including the hydrogen system.

Engineer Rolan Reynaud said “The hydrogen compressors had some glitches that occasionally caused us problems during the last tour. At one point, we had some inopportune ruptures in the membranes. Since then, we found a new process for starting up that works. But overall, the compressors’ characteristics haven’t changed. ”

You can read more about his report in the News section of the Energy Observer site

map of the world showing the boreal forest area spread across the top parts of NA and Eurasis
The boreal forest absorbs almost 20% of the earth’s carbon dioxide

Energy Observer leaves for Amsterdam on March 29 and will again be the hub for the many start-ups, universities and tech partners working on electric, solar and renewable energies in the Netherlands. She then goes to:

  • Hamburg: April 26 to May 12
  • Copenhagen: May 16 to 19
  • Stockholm: May 24 to June 2
  • Helsinki: June 13 to 16
St. Petersburg: June 20

A big part of the Odyssey for the future will be the time spent near the boreal forest of Europe. The entire boreal, which is spread across North America and Eurasia, absorbs nearly 1/5 of the world’s CO2.

Through the summer months EO will go all through and along the coasts of the the Scandinavian countries, well up into the Arctic Circle. She comes back down south along Scotland and will dock from October 14 to 13 under London Bridge.

Photo: ©Zaha Hadid Architects

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