Electric Boats, Hydrogen Fuel and the Green Revolution

The Green Revolution in Yachting

What do you know about Hydrogen fuel operated yachts? Are electric boats a viable option for us captains and owners? The Climate crisis has made us all think about what we can do to prevent deterioration of our environment. The yachting community has to rethink its values. SEAZONE is moving the industry to paperless administration, but there is a fascinating movement in fuel and propulsion technology.

We sat down with Camille Lopez, a young star in the field and the owner of HY-Plug consulting.

What is Hydrogen fuel technology and how it relates to yachting?

We consider Hydrogen itself as an energy source. There are two types of hydrogen application which are in a classic engine or using a fuel cell system to generate electricity. The fuel cell is used to convert the hydrogen into electricity and then convert to  propulsion. It is an alternative to engines using fossil energies by having a similar speed and autonomy.

Tell us a bit about your personal journey and accomplishments

I just finished an International Master degree at IUM (International University of Monaco) and I have a commercial background with 2 years and a half years of automotive industry experience. I won two competitions in 2021, the mark challenge and the MOPC in Monaco with HY-Plug. I am a hard worker and I love challenges as in my personal life I did horse riding endurance French championship up to 100kms per day. I am passionate about automotive and marine sports.

Where is the name HY- Plug coming from?

HY-Plug is coming from a mix between Hydrogen and Electricity for the “HY” and meaning as well “HY” of hybrid. Then “Plug” is the representation of the connection between people which is the aim of my services and the connection between a boat and refuel station when we plug to refill.

What are the benefits of Hydrogen and Electric boats in comparison to Diesel engines? (other than the obvious environmental aspect?)

Regarding the performance side, for the moment we often compare a hydrogen fuel cell and a thermic diesel engine. In terms of speed and autonomy it is quite similar. The storage spaces needed for the fuel and the size of the engines are not that far from each other.

For the electricity, it is a bit different because a big number of batteries are needed, and it is often bigger than the other solutions (for large applications).

Another interesting point is the silence, with hydrogen and electric technologies you are hearing the waves on the hull, the boat pushing the wate.

It is an amazing and new experience to discover sailing without engine noise onboard a motor yacht.

As well as without a thermic engine, you have less vibrations which can be harmful for marine life.

In terms of regulations, more and more areas are becoming protected and with a yacht rejecting fuel pollution you will not be able to access.

 

Is there an infrastructure to support Hydrogen and Electric boats?

For now, there is none, except in a couple of areas in France starting to build refill stations. In the main yacht vacation areas, there aren’t any solutions. In the short term, the easiest way will be to refill with moveable solutions.

In both cases, for the future, an update of the regulations will be needed to be able to create permanent refill stations.

Is there a risk Involving storing Hydrogen fuel?

Yes, there is. As there are risks of storing petrol in a yacht. In some industries,  hydrogen is used for 20 years without any incident. When using hydrogen, you have a safety process available to reduce the risk of incident as much as possible. You have processes for petrol, diesel, and gas as well.

To get an explosion of hydrogen you may have too much hydrogen in a heat source area or an impact on the tank which can happen only on purpose. The risk is controlled by other energies.

 If any of our captains or owners are interested in learning more about the different solutions in the market, where is a good place to go?

Different organizations and foundations are aiming to help captains and owners to know more. The water revolution foundation is working towards creating indicators. As well, events showing the technologies itself, but it is time consuming.

In this case, HY-Plug offers the service to benchmark and find the most suitable solutions regarding their requirements for a specific yacht.

With the consideration of the entire value chain and of the type of energy used after all.

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