Yet again the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge, which for seven years has promoted alternative motorised boat propulsion initiatives, has proved synonymous with innovation and progress in yachting. As teams were not allowed to travel to the Principality due to the current health crisis, the Yacht Club de Monaco offered contestants a new format based on sharing information on open source with auditions online for the 18 teams in competition to describe and defend their projects.
At the online prize-giving ceremony today, five prizes, which included a financial grant for each winner, were awarded.
“As part of our ‘Monaco: Capital of Yachting’ project, the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge aims to support a new generation of engineers whose ideas and inventions are going to re-write the industry’s rule book, making it more respectful of the environment,” says YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri. “We wanted to recognise all the hard work put in by the teams during the last year, while fully respecting health guidelines and avoiding large crowds. That’s why we decided to go the virtual route, for the first time since its launch in 2014”.
Organised by the Yacht Club de Monaco alongside the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and International Powerboating Federation, this event is unique in the world as it reflects the commitment of researchers, academics, future engineers, inventors, and yachting and energy professionals.
Iqos and Credit Suisse, long-time partners of the YCM and the event were at the meeting, alongside BMW and Yachting Partners International (YPI) joining them for the first time in the Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge adventure.
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 Energy Observer.
Divided into three classes (Solar, Energy and Open Sea Class) most participants put themselves forward for all three categories of prizes: Innovation, Eco Conception and the Spirit Prize. Dossiers had to be handed in by 10th June 2020 and were subject to an in-depth analysis, with each team then having an opportunity to defend their project in oral interviews with an international Jury via Zoom.
A wealth of innovations
Three prizes and two ‘Coup de Cœur’ (favourite) prizes were awarded by the Jury who were impressed with the quality of the work presented.
Innovation Prize for Técnico Solar Boat (Portugal)
For most advanced improvements and innovation relevance in meeting the sector’s requirements, the Innovation Prize was presented by Michel Buffat, Head of Aviation & Yacht Finance at Credit Suisse.
Candidates had to submit a written presentation of up to 1,500 words, supported by photos, sketches or videos, plus results of tests carried out to prove the boat’s efficiency. Each team then defended their project in a 20-minute oral session to an international Jury, with this prize being won by Técnico Solar Boat team from Portugal in the Energy Class category.
It’s the fourth time the Portuguese have participated, three times in the Solar Class and this year in the Energy Class. This time, engineers at the Instituto Superior Técnico decided to aim for two categories with two different prototypes. In the Energy Class, they stood out for their concept of a boat powered by hydrogen using a 5kW fuel cell, with current innovations motivating them to produce their own fuel cell and hydrogen using electrolysis of water via an electrolyser powered by solar panels in the future.
Inspired by the Energy Observer vessel, these students hope to have a system in place to filter seawater for the electrolysis process and use the hydrogen produced to power their bespoke fuel cell.
Eco Conception Prize to SBM Offshore E-Racing Team (Monaco)
Efficiency of materials and processes used, plus its contribution to science and the team’s commitment to sharing good practices were the focus for the Eco Conception Prize presented by Abdullah Nahar, Director of Yachting Partners International (YPI).
Sustainability was at the core of the project from SBM Offshore E-Racing Team, led by Francesco Prazzo, in terms of the lifecycle of the cockpit, use of different materials as well as the propulsion system which comprises standard components that can all be reused.
It was the second time the team has entered the Challenge. Registered in the Energy Class, they opted for hydrogen propulsion using components that meet reuse and recycling requirements in a hi-tech context. The cockpit is made of aluminium while more than half the mass of its structural components are easy to re-use or re-employ.
In their quest to find new renewable energy solutions, they designed a prototype floating system that can produce hydrogen from sea water using solar and wind power, ideas that aroused the Jury’s curiosity, to clinch the Eco Conception Prize ahead of the eight other contestants.
Spirit Prize goes to TU Delft Boat Team (Netherlands)
Presented by Thomas Donce from the BMW Group France, the Spirit Prize not only reflects the spirit of the competition, but also originality in the form of a short 1 minute 20 second video which was won by the TU Delft Boat Team. The always-inspired teams have been regulars to this meeting since the first one in 2014 (seven years in total).
The young engineers this year brilliantly retraced and illustrated technical research achieved in the last few months, particularly how they adapted when the Netherlands went into lock-down and they could not progress the project as fast as they wanted. Their team spirit reflects the spirit of the event, making them a worthy winner of this prize.
Not one but two favourites
Unable to decide between them the international Jury wanted to pay tribute to two teams in particular with the ‘Coup de Cœur’ prize.
– First one awarded to Hydros Team UI (Indonesia).
Here last year in Monaco, this Indonesian team were competing for all three prizes with a boat powered by a battery and solar panels that contained several special features. Winner in 2019 of the Spirit Prize, this young Indonesian team once again demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy solutions that could be applied to Indonesia. A worthy motivation which moved the Technical Jury.
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. Their objective is to promote hydrogen as a green alternative energy source. The project has many advantages including good performance, reduced sensitivity to temperature changes, no risk of pollution caused by leaks and zero CO2 emissions. An inspiring project which is becoming a reality.
No downtime for knowledge sharing
Exchanges will continue throughout the year in the form of webinars so contestants can stay in contact with professionals. As a result of these free online technical discussions, open to all, sharing knowledge is the key and reinforces links between candidates and major players in the industry.
The presentations and discussions are available on the event’s website: https://mcsebc.org/webinar/. From September, a new programme of webinars will be accessible from the Yacht Club de Monaco.
Job Forum: at the crossroads of professional and student worlds
The Monaco Solar & Energy Boat Challenge makes every effort to encourage networking between students and boat builders via an online Job Forum platform. Potential employers can post vacancies on it and students their CVs and letter of motivation. A win-win situation for both sides: for example, in 2019 Energy Observer representatives interviewed 15 students, going on to hire eight of them, with a similar scenario for Torqeedo and Azura Marine. Due to the health crisis, the initiative was forced to take a break in 2020, but will be up and running from September 2020.
Source: Yacht Club de Monaco