The results are in from the Monaco Solar and Energy Boat Challenge 2020, the 7th year of the event and the first Challenge to be run as a virtual event due to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kudos to the Yacht Club de Monaco – host of the event – and all who helped make sure that ‘the show went on’. Most of the participating boats in the MSEBC are designed and built by teams of university students. Usually during race week the YCM and Port Hercules harbour are abuzz with the energy of these young, extremely talented and knowledgable leaders of tomorrow coming in from all over Europe, and as far away as Indonesia.
Recognition and reward for months of work
The COVID situation meant they weren’t able to attend in person, but the virtual competition allowed them to showcase their accomplishments and innovations for the judges, while also getting them in front of the other teams and everyone around the world looking for cleaner, better marine propulsion solutions.
The event is organized by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation (UIM), both of whom are committed to sharing the clean energy technical and production advances with researchers, academics, future engineers, inventors, and yachting professionals.
Thanks also go to Iqos and Credit Suisse, long-time partners of the YCM, with BMW and Yachting Partners International (YPI) joining them for the first time for the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge 2020.
Tech Talks and Zoom Presentations
Detailed presentations by each team, ‘Tech Talks’, have always been an important part of the proceedings, with all of the information presented as open source data to be shared by all. This year, the Tech Talks became not just an element of the Challenge, but the core of the competition.
Despite world-wide health restrictions disrupting their work, 18 teams representing 12 nations stepped up to the plate to present their project to a Technical Jury comprising engineer Marco Casiraghi, the man behind the project, Erwann Lebel, naval architect at Espen Oeino International, and Jérémie Lagarrigue from the zero emission research ship Energy Observer.
In the real life, on-the-water Challenge, there are three classes of racing teams: Solar, Energy and Open Sea Class that compete in their own class amongst themselves. For the virtual Monaco Solar & Energy Challenge 2020, all teams were eligible for – and most entered – competition for three prizes: Innovation, Eco Conception and the Spirit Prize.
Dossiers had to be handed in by June 10 and were subject to an in-depth analysis, with each team then having an opportunity to defend their project through Zoom interviews with the jury. The three prizes were then decided, as well as two ‘Coupe de Cœur’ (favourite) awards.
Monaco Solar and Energy Boat Challenge 2020
The Prize Winners
For most advanced improvements and innovation relevant in meeting the sector’s requirements. Presented by Michel Buffat, Head of Aviation & Yacht Finance at Credit Suisse, for the Tecnico Solar Boat by the team from Portugal’s Instituto Superior Técnico.
Inspired by Energy Observer, the students stood out for their concept of a boat powered by hydrogen using a 5kW fuel cell they made themselves, with the hydrogen to be produced by electrolysis using energy from solar panels. In the future they hope to have a system in place to filter seawater for the electrolysis process.
Eco Conception Prize
Evaluated by efficiency of materials and processes used, plus the contribution to science and the team’s commitment to sharing good practices, the Eco Conceptio Prize went to the SBM Offshore E-Racing Team of Monaco. Their boat features an aluminum cockpit and more than half the mass of its structural components are easy to re-use or re-employ.
The Spirit Prize is awarded to the team that best exemplifies the competitive, but cooperative nature of the event. The prize was won by last year’s overall MSEBC winner, the TU Delft Boat from Delft Technical University (Netherlands), which has entered a team every year since the beginning of the MSEBC in 2014.
The young engineers this year brilliantly retraced and illustrated technical research achieved in the last few months, highlighting how they adapted when the Netherlands went into lock-down progress on their project was forced to slow down. They also submitted this very well done video.
Indonesia and French teams both receive Coup de Cœur prizes
In 2019 the Hydros Team from the Universitas Indonesia travelled to Monaco – a quarter of the way around the world – to participate in the solar and energy boat challenge and won that year’s Spirit Prize. This year they competed in all three prize categories with a boat powered by a battery and solar panels that contained several special features and a commitment to renewable energy solutions that can be applied to Indonesia and beyond.
Another very promising project, from Hynova (France), was awarded the second Coup de Cœur prize. Participating for the first time in the Open Sea Class, their team’s entry was a prototype of a 40-foot boat powered by an electric engine, itself powered by hydrogen from a fuel cell supplied by Toyota.