Solar & Energy Boat Challenge – Monaco sails into the future riding on clean energy

Embracing all clean-energy sources to protect our ecosystem

Yesterday, Thursday, July 12, 2018 was the opening ceremony of the 5thedition of the Solar & Energy Boat Challenge that runs from July 12-14, dedicated to promote and optimize innovations in propulsion systems, with this year expanding from the solar-powered boat to embrace all clean-energy sources. Bernard D’Alessandri, General Secretary of the Yacht Club of Monaco introduced H.E. Serge Telle, Minister of State of Monaco, who gave a brief presentation, followed by Bernard Fautrier of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Marco Casiraghi, who is at the initiative of this project, accompanied by other personalities and supporters.

Marco Casiraghi said: “The aim of this project is to highlight the enormous potential of our young engineers supported by the shipyards. We have a common goal, which is to work together to build the leisure boats of tomorrow.” 

Organized by the Yacht Club of Monaco in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Hydros Foundation and International Power Boating Federation (UIM), this competition is unique in the world, giving young engineers an opportunity to reinvent boating to meet future energy and environmental imperatives. The 30 teams with 200 participants include students from colleges and universities, engineers and people from other industries. The boats are grouped in three categories: Solar Class with 21 teams, 6 nations; Offshore Class with 5 boats doing a round trip Monaco-Ventimiglia, or 16 nm; and new this year the Energy Class.

For the new Energy Class category the Yacht Club of Monaco, in collaboration with the Hydros Foundation arranged the construction of five identical catamaran hulls in Dubai. “These teams of college Engineering students and industrials must on their own assemble the cockpit and install a proper propulsion system,”explained Bernard D’Alessandri, YCM General Secretary. The five sources of clean energy they could choose from are: electricity, hydrogen, comprised air, recyclable waste and biosourced gas.

The purpose of this event is to bring new solutions and compare them. You need to know that the internal combustion engine in terms of pure propulsion gets only 30% out of the energy contained in 1 litre of fuel, compared to a fuel cell that attains about 80%. So why aren’t we seeing more fuel cells and new more efficient systems than the combustion engine?” asks Jérémie Lagarrigue, General Manager of Hydros Efficiency and organiser of the Hydrocontest in Saint-Tropez, first student competition dedicated to maritime energy (working on hulls).

The cutting edge participating teams

During the opening ceremony the different teams took the stage to introduce themselves.

Solar Class

Offshore Race heads to Italy

Another edition, another destination for the offshore race, which this year heads to Ventimiglia in Italy. Boats must comply with YCM Offshore Class rules, which means being able to take three people and comply with technical specifications defined with the UIM. Five teams are all set to do this 16 nautical mile race (there and back).

“The aim is to highlight the enormous potential of our young engineers supported by the shipyards. We have a common goal, which is to work together to build the leisure boats of tomorrow,” explains Marco Casiraghi, himself an engineer and the man behind the project. The two harbours are set to be interconnected soon. Meanwhile this race serves as a big test for boats, close to commercialization, with an eco-responsible propulsion on the sea.

Featuring a few Solar Boats

Plastic Odyssey

Find new more sustainable solutions and apply them to boats is the challenge that is inspiring a new generation like Bob Vrignaud, responsible for R&D and Simon Bernard, co-founder of Plastic Odyssey, a 25m catamaran powered by plastic waste.

It is a concept that became obvious faced with the urgency of the situation, one where, they explain that, “every minute plastic waste the equivalent of the weight of three elephants is dumped into the oceans.” Plastic Odyssey is a round the world expedition on a laboratory boat, totally autonomous thanks to plastic, the waste we collect at each port of call being recycled on board. The goal of this project is not to cleanup the oceans, already widely polluted by plastic. Indeed, once it is in the sea, it’s too late: only 1% of plastic waste floats to the surface, with the remaining 99% breaking-down into micro-particles and carpets the seabed. The goal is to demonstrate that it is too valuable to end up in the ocean.”

Experience the thrill of the event

Bertrand Piccard, the man behind Solar Impulse, the first fuel-less zero-emissions plane with limitless autonomy in which he flew round the world, agreed to sponsor this fifth edition. “I’m delighted to see what can be achieved with clean energy sources. These boats can compete in races full of suspense and all without any noise or pollution. It really is something that needs to be encouraged.”


World’s largest civilian drone

A showcase for new technology after Planet Solar in 2014, the 2018 Solar & Energy Boat Challenge hosts the oceanic drone Sphyrna, the largest civilian surface drone in the world (17m), with an electric motor powered by solar, wind and tidal energy. It is here on a mission this summer to help assess noise disturbance on cetaceans in the Pelagos Sanctuary, supervised by Professor Hervé Glotin from Toulon University and François Sarano, former scientific advisor to Captain Cousteau and member of the YCM’s Explorers Club.

Exchanging ideas to build a clean future for yachting

It is just over a century since the first powerboat meetings were held in Monaco, attracting the world’s industrialists to see the latest innovations in internal combustion engine technology. Today, the Principality continues a long tradition as a laboratory for progress, focused today on clean energy sources. For the 5thedition, all participants are invited to exchange ideas at daily Tech Talks (see program) in the format of round tables and present their ideas on Open Source. A jury of specialists, including members of SMEG (Société Monégasque de l’Electricité et du Gaz) like Anthony Dupont, responsible for controlling energy use, and Sales Director Pierfranck Pelacchi, will present a special innovation prize at the closing ceremony on July 14.

After its success last year, UIM (International Powerboating Federation) will be holding its international workshop once again, focused on the environment and watersports. Speakers include representatives from authorities and international sports federations who will discuss challenges facing the application of sustainable energy sources for motorboats.


The Solar & Energy Boat Challenge Village will be open to the public, with a host of activities going on in the paddocks where everybody is welcome to get close to the action.

Today’s Quote 

“Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature – it’s the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21stcentury.”Bjork


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