Technical advances in 2018
Organised in July by the Yacht Club de Monaco, in collaboration with the Hydros Foundation, International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is unique in the world.
More than a century after the first international powerboat meetings were launched in 1904, the YCM is reviving a tradition by leaving the field wide open to innovation and the imaginations of young engineers, working hand in hand with experienced manufacturers. Their goal is to develop alternative propulsion systems, using only clean energy sources to power the yachting of tomorrow. A real technological challenge to meet the energy needs of the leisure boat and shipping industries and the accompanying and environmental prerogatives.
The 5th edition attracted 200 contestants from 12 nationalities, across 30 teams and three categories: Solar Class, Offshore Class and Energy Class (launched in 2018). But it is not just participant numbers that are increasing, but also the scientific progress being made with these new technologies.
As well as a range of contests, which saw Clafis Victron Energy Solar Boat Team led by Gerhard van der Schaar win the event again, the YCM wanted to encourage Open Source, a sharing of knowledge and projects via Tech Talks. These daily conference-format meetings for contestants proved very popular with the students, eager to pass on useful information so vital for the industry’s development. With this in mind, the YCM created a group discussion forum on the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Facebook page , accessible to all and allowing everyone to monitor updates remotely.
Even now, some teams are in a position to offer the market ready to use compact batteries with a 0.12kW per kilo capacity, as well as Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charge controllers that improve voltaic panel performance to more than 95% by optimising the battery’s charge and prolonging its life.
Regards propulsion, there have been interesting improvements in powertrain efficiency, with an L-type propulsion system instead of the standard Z-type yielding outputs of 80% compared to the industry average of 50%. The ultra-compact counter-rotating propellers produce less noise and vibration, as well as offering better controllability and performance. In terms of the power-to-weight ratio of the engine, electric engines available today deliver 13kW for 32kg, while some of the prototypes unveiled at the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge are achieving 30kW for 13kg. As for solar panels, new solar cells are now more flexible.
|Technical advances in 2018
More information on the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Facebook page
Next year for the 6th edition (2-6 July 2019), the focus will be on energy storage which is evolving. Some teams that will line up for the Energy Class events are planning to develop a complete fuel cell that will very quickly become the future new generator on most yachts. Say goodbye not only to vibration and noise but exhaust gases, as only oxygen and water will be in the emissions which means zero pollution.
Now that is a big step forward to the future!