Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge powers innovation of future


Day 2

The annual competition is designed to spark innovation in green propulsion systems and yacht design.

The Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, which took place earlier this month, is making a key contribution to the future of yacht design, according to one of its organisers the Yacht Club de Monaco.

Commenting on the competition, the club’s general secretary Bernard d’Alessandri said: “The Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge is contributing to the thinking on yachting’s future. Through this event, and as part of the project to make Monaco a yachting capital, the Principality is providing a crossroads for experiments of the industry’s engineers, boatyards, students and owners in their bid to meet the energy and environmental challenges facing the nautical sector.”

The event, dedicated to developing solutions for sustainable yachting, was organised in partnership with the International Powerboating Federation (UIM) and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. More than 30 teams from 14 countries vied to win top honours in the challenge which seeks to test credible alternatives to fossil fuels in order to shape propulsion systems for boats of the future.

Alternatives to fossil fuels

Club President, Prince Albert II, who met exhibitors and contestants, highlighted the competition’s contribution to encouraging the next generation of engineers and designers. “Training and educating our young people, their development, creativity, awareness and involvement are the guarantors of a better future. Let us give them a chance, give them all the tools they need to succeed and above all put our trust in them,” he said.

The best represented category in the competition was the solar group, which attracted 19 entrants. The Dutch claimed victories for New Nexus (Open Class) and Sunflare (A Class). For the first time since this event was launched in 2014, the solar fleet managed a three-hour, non-stop race covering nearly 20 nautical miles on the sea, showing the progress of technology.

More than 400 competitors, exhibitors and speakers, and an estimated 1,000 visitors attended the event, which took place from Tuesday July 2nd to Saturday July 6th. Read the list of category winners at the end of this article.

So far, hydrogen technology “appears set to become an effective alternative of choice” to fossil fuel, with a role to play for solar energy and hybrid solutions, according to the organisers.

Thermo-electric project

The Netherlands-based SBM Offshore was awarded the Credit Suisse Innovation Prize for its thermo-electric project, which uses hydrogen as the energy source. Heat generated by the fuel cell is used to supply the battery that is said to approach a record 60% efficiency.

Next year’s competition will take place from June 30th to July 4th. A dozen teams have already signed up in the Energy category, including an entry from the Visun Royal Yacht Club of China.

Meanwhile, Silent Yachts is to debut the latest version of its Silent 55, a solar-powered, 17m ocean-going catamaran, at the 2019 Cannes Yachting Festival in September. The new Silent 55 is powered by a pair of 250-kW e-motors and boasts 210 kWh of battery capacity.

Winners of the 6th Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge

Energy Class: Wave ESTACA (France)

Offshore Class, Long Race: TU Delft Solar Boat Team (Netherlands)

Offshore Class, Endurance Race: VITA Yachts (Scotland)

Solar Open Class: New Nexus (Netherlands)

Solar A-Class: Sunflare (Netherlands)

Speed Record: Anvera Elab (Italy) 74.49 km/hr, beating the previous record set in 2016 of 49.10 km/hr

Innovation Prize: SBM Offshore (Monaco)

Best Tech Talk Prize: Solar Boat Twente (Pays-Bas)

Communication Prize: HydroVinci (France)

Spirit Prize: Team Indonesia.