MEBC, the future of boats is hydrogen: here’s why


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Monaco Energy Boat Challenge 2021
Monaco Energy Boat Challenge 2021

What will be held July 6-10 will be the eighth edition of the event reserved for green-powered boats, the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. Organized by the Yacht Club de Monaco together with the UIM, this event garnered the interest of 31 teams and 24 universities from 17 nationalities, including Italy. The rules state that entered hulls will be divided into three categories: Solar Class, Energy Class and Open Sea Class, with the latter competing on a course starting in Monaco and finishing in Ventimiglia, a total of 16 miles. The event will also provide an opportunity to take stock of the topic of sustainability and in particular the state of the art in renewable energy powered propulsion systems.

Monaco Energy Boat Challenge 2021: hydrogen at the core

Hydrogen will be the focus of the 8th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge. The European Commission also announced targets for developing green hydrogen, with a first date set in 2024, when green hydrogen production is expected to have reached one million tons. By 2030, the goal is to exceed 10 million.

This ambitious roadmap is based on a revolution in the energy system. To date, eight teams have already announced that their project promotes this solution. Among them is SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, which won the Innovation Award in 2019 and the Eco Conception Award last year. They are returning for their third crack at this event and will face five other teams including newcomers Team Altran (Groupe CapGemini).

It is an unstoppable solution with the wind in its sails according to Gunter Pauli, economist, ecologist and the man behind the blue economy: “Hydrogen is the only energy we can consider. Its efficiency compared to a battery or a diesel engine, even compared to electricity (…), hydrogen outperforms them all.”


For now, we are still in an experimental stage, and there is a long way to go before hydrogen becomes a viable alternative on a large scale. That said, there are so many start-ups that are focusing their efforts in this direction.

Monaco Energy Boat Challenge 2021: the competing classes

In the Energy class, introduced in 2018 and featuring 17 teams this year including SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, competitors use catamaran hulls provided by the Yacht Club de Monaco. Each team must select a renewable energy and design a propulsion system. There is only one restriction: you can use a predetermined amount of energy.

Starting its first edition in 2014, the Solar Class is for boats powered only by the sun. These boats compete in one-on-one duels, slalom races and endurance races. About 15 boats from all over Europe are expected this year.

It changes the name of the Offshore Class and becomes the Open Sea Class. This is mainly dedicated to vessels already in the market or about to enter. These boats face range challenges, including a 16-nautical mile (29.6 km) race from Monaco to Ventimiglia in Italy, an endurance course and a maneuverability challenge. For electric or hydrogen boats already on the market or in development, this event is a great test and a way to keep an eye on the market.


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