10e Symposium Environnemental « La Belle Classe Superyachts »


As part of Monaco Ocean Week (22-27 March 2021), Yacht Club de Monaco was responsible for the yachting component during a week organised by the Prince Albert II Foundation and Monaco Government, in partnership with the Monaco Oceanographic Institute and Monaco Scientific Centre, the purpose of which was to progress thinking on how to protect the marine environment.


YCM therefore held its 10th La Belle Classe Superyachts Environmental Symposium on 25th March to bring owners and captains up to date with what is happening on this issue in yachting and unite all those involved in the sector. YCM sees itself as a crossroads for discussions. Due to the global health situation, there was a new format this year with a full day of talks and lively debates held in-person and remotely. Six experts in their field, including explorer Mike Horn and journalist Guillaume Pitron attended to share their experience and expertise on the theme: New energy sources and carbon emissions: looking forward.


© Mesi / Yacht Club de Monaco

Hydrogen an energy for the future

Representing a real opportunity to accelerate the energy transition, hydrogen is a carbon neutrality lever, and part of future solutions for our planet and the world’s population, 70% of whom live along the coast. “25% of the world’s population depend on sea fishing, 25% of animal and plant species could disappear within 40 years, 30% of the marine biodiversity lives in corals yet by 2050 all corals could be dead (the phenomenon is accelerating)”, noted Jérémie Lagarrigue, CEO of EODev (Energy Explorer Developments).


He went on to explain: “Hydrogen presents as the only energy system that meets regulatory requirements and allows business to continue”. Inexhaustible with high-density energy, considered the best ally of renewable energies and offering fast refuelling, clean, quiet and light, hydrogen’s advantages are well established. Turnover is increasing exponentially and “this is going to improve,” said Jérémie Lagarrigue, “In 2017, hydrogen was worth 2 billion dollars, we are counting on that rising to 2.5 trillion dollars by 2050, with 30 million jobs created.”

Industry professionals are also giving hydrogen a chance, as evidenced by the La Ciotat Refit Shipyards in a talk by Jean-Yves Saussol, General Director of the La Ciotat Shipyards. Construction of a new 40,000m2 platform including cranage equipment with a near 5,000 tonne capability, destined for superyacht refits, meets environmental requirements. A call for projects was launched in December 2020, won by Hynova Yacht, the first recreational boat brand in the world to come out with an electro-hydrogen propulsion system.


© Mesi / Yacht Club de Monaco


Hydrogen at sea

Is the development of hydrogen ultimately a solution that could benefit yachting? Yes, if one is to believe in the growing number of projects benefiting from hydrogen, be they sail or motor vessels, for example: Samana 59 from Fountaine Pajot, the 60m Orcageno, Aquon One, The New Era, the 40-ft Hynova Yacht and the hydrogen project on Viking, a 29m Sunseeker refit, not forgetting Mike Horn’s expedition sailing boat Pangaea (35m).

“Hydrogen, batteries, solar, wind, hydro-electricity, we are testing all these technologies in extreme conditions to be applied on a massive scale,” explains Victorien Erussard, President, Captain and founder of Energy Explorer, a catamaran powered solely by renewable energy and using hydrogen as a means of energy storage. “We have on board a two-stage compressor: 180 bars and 350 bars which allows us to minimise hydrogen storage volume,”  said Victorien Erussard, “Energy Observer also has eight 332 litre tanks that can store a total of 62kg of hydrogen”. Its fuel cell also converts hydrogen into electricity and heat. But the goals are bigger still “to develop and consolidate our expertise in the sustainable energy transition field, be that in terms of the economic, environmental and societal impacts, or current developments both technological and its usages.”


For his part, explorer Mike Horn developed an equipment project based on hydrogen technology for his expedition sailing boat Pangaea. Based on both his experience of the situation with the environment and power requirements for carbon-free mobility, he contributed to development by CEA-Liten of a new generation of a minimum 300kW fuel cell to be fitted to his boat. A device he is testing in motor racing ashore before tackling extreme conditions with Pangaea. The YCM member stressed the need to take the leap into the massive investment required to deploy hydrogen facilities, in particular for production and distribution of green hydrogen produced from renewable energy. He reminded the audience that the leisure boat and superyacht sectors had a major role to play in transforming what fuel sources are used and eradicating use of fossil fuels. Hydrogen will again be at the heart of discussions during the 8th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge (6-10 July 2021) with eight of the teams registered having announced their intention to promote this solution for their project.


© Mesi / Yacht Club de Monaco


Environmental impact of superyachts under the microscope

Under the aegis of the ‘Monaco Capital of Yachting’ project, initiated by the Yacht Club de Monaco with the aim being to make the Principality a centre of excellence and innovation in luxury yachting, YCM in partnership with Credit Suisse launched the SEA Index. Intended for owners of +40m yachts, this benchmark will help them assess their yacht’s CO2 emissions and improve its environmental performance. Already up and running the customised tool aims to promote best practices by awarding an ecological ranking. Collaborative and evolving, the aspiration is for the SEA Index to be extended to other aspects on a yacht to become a multi-facetted index covering propulsion systems, heat recovery, chemical products, waste and water. YCM President HSH Prince Albert II officially inducted the first owners of yachts (68m to 90m) who have embraced this approach. It was an opportunity also to formalise the SEA Index collaboration with Lloyd’s Register. “This is true recognition by a renowned international body,” commented Michel Buffat, Head of Aviation & Yacht Finance, Credit Suisse.

Measuring superyachts’ environmental impact is an ambition shared by Water Evolution which through its YETI Tool can measure a yacht’s life cycle. For Robert Van Tool, Executive Director of Water Evolution, it was “necessary to put in place a mechanism which recognises and rewards environmentally friendlier choices”. It is still under development, but this tool  in the box for the yachting industry should not only improve knowledge of the different energy sources used on different types of yacht but also the effectiveness of methods used to calculate CO2 emissions and even how the environmental impact is measured.


Yachting at the heart of debates

Electric propulsion, Greentech and rare metals: which energy transition for yachting? A broad question that French journalist and documentary filmmaker Guillaume Pitron tried to answer. For this expert in the geopolitics of raw materials, it should be borne in mind that transport is one of the biggest targets for a technical revolution as it represents, depending on the country, 15-25% of greenhouse gas emissions.

“This transition is imperative, but must be enriched with recommendations: knowledge of the truth of ecological technologies, ethical sourcing of minerals, mineral diplomacy, a circular economy, etc.” said the journalist. “Recreational boats account for 1% of greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime sector”. However, the yachting sector has up to now been relatively protected from “green” regulations (unlike freight, for example) but is “being invited more and more to make its energy transition, in particular by respecting international regulations designed so the transport sector no longer emits carbon by 2050. It’s an inevitable change that must be anticipated now”. To achieve this, several solutions are considered and are possible: using thermal engines with cleaner fuels (biofuel, natural gas, algo-fuel, bioethanol) or 100% electric engines or hydrogen fuel cells. “While all these avenues may have their drawbacks, the total sum of their advantages is undeniable”.


Meetings continue today Friday 26th March at 4.30pm with a talk open to the public online by Boris Herrmann and Pierre Casiraghi, YCM Vice-President and founder of Team Malizia, who will be here to take stock of the first time a boat flying the Principality’s flag competed in the Vendée Globe and to present the first scientific data (CO2 emissions) from the laboratory aboard Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco.


© Martin Keruzoré / Team Malizia


Les rencontres se poursuivent aujourd’hui vendredi à 16h30 avec une conférence grand public en distanciel qui sera animée par Boris Herrmann et Pierre Casiraghi, vice-président du Yacht Club de Monaco et Fondateur de la Team Malizia, qui viendront dresser un bilan global de ce premier Vendée Globe, sous les couleurs de la Principauté et présenter les premières données scientifiques (émissions de CO2) du laboratoire embarqué à bord de Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco.