Renewable hydrogen: the great ambition of Energy Observer & Air Liquide

Published on January 4, 2022

9 mins

Air Liquide's partnership with Energy Observer can be summed up in a few words: the encounter of two energies. Hydrogen is of course at the heart of this collaboration. Hydrogen on a large scale as a solution for a carbon-free world. This logical, natural partnership began with the launch of the boat in April 2017. It was strengthened further in 2021 as Air Liquide became a main partner. Beyond the famous boat itself, the Energy Observer approach is global, just like that of Air Liquide, a pioneer in the international development of hydrogen. Concretely, this partnership is already geared towards two dimensions: public awareness and technological innovation. Read on for explanations.

Spreading the word about hydrogen to the world

When it comes to the energy transition, the time has come for action and solutions. If Air Liquide has been a partner in the laboratory ship project since its inception, supported by its captain Victorien Erussard, it is because it is opening up new avenues for "zero emission" mobility in the maritime sector. It is also because it helps to show all audiences, on all continents, to what extent hydrogen contributes to the energy transition.

Energy Observer is much more than a boat: it’s a great idea that travels the world emitting as little carbon as possible. A commitment that led Victorien Erussard to be appointed the first French ambassador of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition in 2018. His mission? Convey France's message on the need to act in all aspects of the ecological transition and inspire as many players as possible.

The first dimension of Energy Observer’s partnership is the support provided by Air Liquide to the “Energy Observer Foundation”. Its mission is to bring together expertise to accelerate the energy transition and make all audiences aware of the potential and challenges presented by hydrogen and promote the 17 SDGs. These objectives address subjects that are vital for populations, governments and businesses: the environment, biodiversity protection, climate, health, equality, education and even clean energy. A roadmap in line with the sustainable development objectives of the Air Liquide group, and in particular with its commitments in relation to the development of renewable hydrogen.

Illumination of the Eiffel Tower using renewable hydrogen supplied by Air Liquide

Since 2017, a lot of ground has been covered by Energy Observer and many initiatives have been carried out. Such as the illumination of the Eiffel Tower using renewable hydrogen supplied by Air Liquide, a highly symbolic event, with a certificate of guarantee of origin established by the European platform CertifHy®. This happened on May 25, 2021 as part of "Hydrogen Paris", an event sponsored by Energy Observer with the support of the City of Paris. A great moment we shared and a source of pride for all the teams.

Right in the middle of Paris or on a corner of the Pacific Ocean, the Energy Observer project aims to shine everywhere. Inform, raise awareness, change mentalities of all audiences on hydrogen, renewable energies, and energy transition: the Air Liquide-Energy Observer duo is working on this. The teams are called upon to collaborate more and more. This is the second dimension of this partnership.

Developing innovative projects together

With unique sets of expertise across the entire hydrogen value chain, Air Liquide’s technicians, engineers and researchers work together on research and development projects carried out in the partnership. Matthieu Giard, member of the Executive Committee of the Air Liquide group, Director of Hydrogen activities, delivers his vision: “Through the collaboration of our teams with those of Energy Observer, and the tests of hydrogen technologies in extreme environments, we will be able to accelerate the development of hydrogen-based solutions and their large-scale applications, in particular in the maritime sector."  Victorien Erussard, President of Energy Observer, understood how the Air Liquide group could register both upstream projects at the time of design, and downstream, when a viable project can be developed. "Air Liquide's know-how, combined with the innovations developed and tested by Energy Observer, are essential to offer concrete solutions on a large scale."

On the program: synergy of skills

At the heart of this exceptional partnership, there are women and men from all professions and backgrounds from the Air Liquide group and the Energy Observer teams. Energy Observer consists of sailors, scientists, engineers and journalists traveling the planet to develop innovative solutions to accelerate the energy transition and launch actions to raise awareness among all audiences. Air Liquide consists of employees capable of bringing their expertise and experience to Energy Observer to concretely respond to the challenges of energy transition and meet new technological challenges. Skills sponsorship is therefore a cornerstone of this partnership.

Energy Observer, the Odyssey of a big idea

Energy Observer was originally the name of the world's first catamaran entirely self-sufficient in energy thanks to a mix of renewable energies: wind, solar, hydraulic and hydrogen as a means of storage. The boat houses a complete production line for renewable hydrogen from desalinated sea water injected into an electrolyser. What were the results? Zero carbon emissions, zero fine particles, zero noise. This performance was hailed and sustained the minute the boat was launched in 2017. A true floating laboratory of sustainable energies, Energy Observer has also become a symbol carried by the Odyssey.

Energy Observer approaching San Francisco

The boat has been touring the world for seven years with a scientific and educational mission. Far beyond the ship, it is the entire system of the Energy Observer project, at sea and on land, that makes sense. The Air Liquide teams have the full vocation to be associated with it, because they share the same values ​​and this ambition evoked by Matthieu Giard: “It is by taking action today, to prepare for the future and develop new models of sustainable mobility, that we can have a positive impact on the society of tomorrow. "

We invent the future with our partner Energy Observer.