Energy Observer, zero-emission lab vessel, makes India stopover in Kochi

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Energy Observer, which is on a round-the-world odyssey, called at Kochi on Monday.

Energy Observer, which is on a round-the-world odyssey, called at Kochi on Monday.
| Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

Energy Observer, a zero-emission lab vessel which is on a round-the-world odyssey, called at Kochi, its sole stopover in India, highlighting the role of green hydrogen as a sustainable energy source, on Monday.

Ever since it began sailing in 2017 from France, the vessel has covered 45,000 nautical miles (1 nm = 1.8 km) and called at 40 countries. The stopover at the Kochi International Marina is the vessel’s 75th one and the immediate next after Indonesia.

Green hydrogen

It is the first vessel powered by renewable energy sources like sun, wind, and self-generated hydrogen. Green hydrogen is at the heart of Energy Observer’s India stopover. It was hosted here by the Energy Management Centre (EMC), which comes under the Department of Power.

Addressing the media here, Victorien Erussard, captain and founder of Energy Observer, said there was at present a definitive will to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources and hydrogen as energy source to neutralise greenhouse gas emissions. “Nevertheless, obstacles persist. It is key to further accelerating our energy transition since time is running out. Urgent steps are needed to demonstrate the coherence of large pilot projects and massively direct investments towards low-carbon technologies to make them accessible to all,” he added.

The vessel has on board five people, including its captain, a scientist, an engineer and a journalist. Responding to a query on ensuring its safety, especially since hydrogen storage was hitherto considered a safety hazard, Beatrice Cordiano, scientist on board the vessel, said there were double the requisite safety measures, including sensors to keep tabs on any change of concentration of hydrogen.

Joint roadmap

With development of hydrogen as an energy source at the core of energy transition, France and India announced in October 2022 the adoption of a joint roadmap for the development of green hydrogen to create synergy between French and Indian ecosystems in the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Lise Talbot Barré, Consul General of France in Pondicherry and Chennai, said the vessel’s Kochi stopover came at a time when France and India were strengthening their cooperation to advance carbon neutrality and develop renewable energies. “Kerala’s green-hydrogen mission has resulted in it being the first State to include hydrogen-powered mobility in its zero-emissions mobility policy. India plans to achieve carbon neutrality and looks forward to a transportation system based on hydrogen-fuel cells. France is investing heavily in this field, which opens up new opportunities for scientific and economic cooperation between the two countries. The stopover will reinforce the synergies between French and Indian actors in the fight against climate change,” she said.

“We are convinced that green hydrogen plays an essential role in the decarbonisation of our economy and the protection of the environment, as part of the latest amendment of the Energy Conservation Act adopted at the national level,” said R. Harikumar, Director of EMC.

Workshop on green hydrogen

On the occasion of the vessel’s stopover in Kochi, the EMC, mandated with enforcing the Energy Conservation Act in Kerala, will organise a three-day national workshop on ‘Green hydrogen pathways to a sustainable future’, at Bolgatty Event Centre.

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