At the end of Monaco Ocean Week, on protecting the oceans, the Yacht Club de Monaco unveiled key themes of the 6th Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge.
Organised from 2-6 July 2019, in partnership with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation (UIM), this meeting of new technologies and discussion revives a tradition for engine innovation that goes back to when the Principality organised the first powerboat meetings in 1904.
Launched in 2014, this unique event open to the public and supported by Credit Suisse and SBM Offshore, brings together three categories of motorboat in the Solar, Offshore and Energy Classes. The aim is to leave the field open to the creativity of young engineers, working with experienced manufacturers, to design and develop alternative propulsion systems for yachts, using only clean energy sources.
As well as the races, the 40-plus international teams of students and professionals will share the progress they are making on clean energy systems at daily Tech Talks on Open Source.
They are tackling a big challenge to meet the future energy and environmental imperatives for marine-based industries.
“As concerns are growing for the future of our planet, we think it’s essential the yachting sector embrace clean energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in line with commitments undertaken by States during the Paris Agreement. Convinced that one must lead by example, and as an integral part of our Monaco: Capital of Yachting project, we want to prick people’s consciences, and assist and support these young engineers who I find are very concerned with environmental issues,” comments Yacht Club de Monaco General Secretary, Bernard d’Alessandri.
Solar Class: Sun still in its firmament
Present from the start and at every edition since 2014, the Solar Class sees around 20 entrants competing, each boat as inventive as the other, with speeds averaging up to 20 knots.
“The technology is absolutely incredible: you have race-boats, including highly competitive ones using foils which rise right up out of the water. There’s no noise, no pollution, no fuel, you’re really in harmony with nature and at the same time you have all the suspense of true competition. I think we really need to demonstrate where the latest technology is leading us: it’s taking us a long way – in the right direction,” says Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of Solar Impulse and the Solar Class sponsor.
Energy Class: hydrogen takes centre stage
The Energy Class is a new category, introduced by the YCM in 2018 to compare solutions (electricity, hydrogen, etc.). The challenge for students working with industry is to design the most powerful and durable propulsion system using clean energy sources to power one-design catamaran hulls supplied by the YCM. For 2019, it seems hydrogen is the most popular choice, as out of eight boats registered to date, three are working on this as a solution: SBM Offshore E-Racing Team (Monaco), HEIG VDI (Switzerland) and Hydrogad’z from Arts et Métiers (France).
“SBM Offshore has been investing in renewable energy at sea for many years. We are very proud to be associated with the Yacht Club de Monaco for this 6th Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, and to see our young engineers putting all their talent and energy into this great venture,” says Didier Beynet, Monaco Country Director for SBM Offshore.
This option has been given a big boost by Energy Observer, the first hydrogen-powered vessel aiming to be totally autonomous, with no greenhouse gas or fine particulate emissions. An Ambassador of the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge during her ports of call, Energy Observer was keen to make available an engineer to support students in their preparations and throughout the event.
Offshore Class: proving by example
Competing over a distance of 36 nautical miles (67km) without fossil fuels? Yes it is possible! At the same time as the races in Monaco Bay, two offshore races are proposed from Monaco to Ventimiglia. While the two harbours are set to be interconnected soon, this race serves as a field trial for users of new energy sources. It is for example an opportunity to put the new generation of electric tenders, developed by the yachting industry, through their paces in conditions they can expect to face in the future.
“The aim of this event is to highlight the enormous potential of our young engineers supported by the shipyards. We have a common goal, which is to work together to build the leisure boats of tomorrow,” explains engineer Marco Casiraghi, who initiated this particular project.
ZERO Emissions goal
For the sixth edition, the Yacht Club de Monaco and its partners have thrown down the gauntlet to competitors and the Monegasque community to produce as near to zero emissions as possible throughout the week, by banning all fossil fuels.
Ashore and at sea, initiatives to reduce the event’s impact include electric or hydrogen-powered bikes and cars, with recharging of electric vehicles courtesy of the Suncy vessel; eco-friendly gourdes and water fountains to reduce waste; solar ovens, etc. Any initiative will be encouraged and promoted.
It is with this in mind that the YCM signed a partnership with Torqeedo, a recognised leader in electric outboard engines to ensure all boats involved in the event’s organisation are 100% electric.
OPEN Source & JOB Dating: sharing knowledge and marrying skills
After the success of the Tech Talks and Open Source in 2018, the YCM is keen to expand this aspect of networking and sharing knowledge with talks given by key players in the industry.
On the programme: two mornings of discussions on the main themes:
- Environmental challenges & opportunities in the maritime world (Thursday 4th July)
- Sustainability and energy efficiency in Yachting (Friday 5th July)
Finally, to encourage and motivate students in their research, a number of prizes will be awarded by a jury of experts, including an Innovation Prize, Best Tech Talk and Zero Emission Award.
Teams from all over the world
Thanks to its original format, the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge’s reputation is spreading among budding engineers, attracting teams from all over the world: for example, the Hydros Team Universitas Indonesia competing in the Energy Class. Other teams are coming to observe with a view to taking part in 2020, such as the Sanya Visun Royal Yacht Club (China) and Dubai’s Rochester Institute of Technology. It is reassuring to note that for the new generation energy transition is a hot topic all over the planet.