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French liner operator CMA CGM Group is joining forces with the Energy Observer project, the first hydrogen-powered vessel to embark on a round-the-world voyage.

Energy Observer, a former racing catamaran that has been converted into an experimental platform for tomorrow’s energy sources, is sailing round the world in order to speed up development of the most innovative solutions for the environment. The project has several partners and earlier this month installed a hydrogen fuel cell developed for road use by Toyota.

The partnership with CMA CGM deals with the development of cleaner and more sustainable energies to eliminate CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases and air pollutants. It aims to experiment, test and develop energy solutions based on hydrogen, solar, tidal and wind power.

In a joint statement CMA CGM and Energy Observer said “Hydrogen is a limitless energy source that generates up to four times more energy than coal and three times more than diesel. The green hydrogen used by Energy Observer is made from seawater using on-board renewable sources of electricity (solar, wind and hydropower). Producing and burning hydrogen does not result in any greenhouse gas or fine particle emissions.

CMA CGM and Energy Observer R&D experts will pool their expertise and knowledge to develop technological solutions capable of limiting the environmental impact of shipping. The mobilisation of CMA CGM will make possible the industrialisation of new concrete energy solutions tested on board this floating smart grid. CMA CGM will also contribute its shipping and logistics expertise to Energy Observer. The Energy Observer village will be made from containers converted and transported by CMA CGM with the large-scale operational support from the whole CMA CGM network around the world. It will travel the globe, presenting the latest technological innovations to the largest possible number of people and raising awareness about ecological transition issues among all audiences.

CMA CGM has long been committed to protecting the environment and reducing its carbon footprint. Between 2005 and 2015, the Group reduced its CO2 emissions per container transported by 50%, and it has set itself the target of reducing it by a further 30% between 2015 and 2025. The company can list numerous other environmental commitments including using LNG for fuel, opting not to use the Northern Sea Route, testing biofuels and adoption of other eco=technologies.

Tanya Saadé Zeenny, Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, said, “CMA CGM is joining forces with Energy Observer to accelerate the development of tomorrow’s energy solutions, particularly hydrogen. Our partnership will mobilize all of CMA CGM’s know-how. Our teams of engineers and R&D experts are already working and our network around the world will be strongly mobilised to ensure the logistical support of Energy Observer’s worldwide ports of call.”

Victorien Erussard, Energy Observer’s Founder and Captain, added, “Leader in the shipping energy transition, CMA CGM is a key partner in our quest for clean transport. With CMA CGM’s huge experience in the shipping industry, our respective engineers and our technology partners, we have every chance of achieving our goals, which are ambitious but increasingly realistic. We are all driven by the same passion for technology and the desire to develop alternative energy solutions. The sea is something we can all share, and it is time to share our skills in order to protect the ocean, our favourite environment. We are delighted to be joining the 500-plus vessels in the CMA CGM fleet.”