Zero-emission boat prepares for round-the-world odyssey

In this photo dated Aug. 31, 2016 and provided by RIVACom, Energy Observer expedition leader Jerome Delafosse, left, and captain, Victorien Erussard, pose in front of the two floats of Energy Observer, which is the first boat to be powered solely by renewable energies and hydrogen, in Saint Malo, western France. The first self-sufficient boat only powered by emission-free energy will start a six-year trip around the world next spring. (Pierrick Contin/Energy Observer via AP)

PARIS (AP) — The first self-sufficient boat powered only by emission-free energy will start a six-year trip around the world in the spring.

Energy Observer, a former multi-hull race boat converted into a green vessel equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and a hydrogen fuel cell system, will be powered by wind, the sun and self-generated hydrogen.

The 5 million euro ($5.25 million) boat, which is currently in a shipyard in Saint-Malo, will set sail from the Brittany port and will make its first of 101 stops across 50 countries in Paris as part of a six-year circumnavigation.

“This boat will demonstrate that there are many solutions for energetic transition,” said French environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, who attended the project presentation on Wednesday at the UNESCO headquarters. “All solutions are within nature.”

Designed in 1983 under the supervision of Mike Birch, the boat enjoyed a successful career in open-sea sailing races, including winning the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994, with Peter Blake at the helm. The Energy Observer project was conceived in 2015 by skippers Frederic Dahirel and Victorien Erussard, with scuba diver and filmmaker Jerome Delafosse also behind the project.

“I’m passionate about new technologies,” Erussard said. “Building a self-sufficient boat could have seemed utopian, but this is going to be an incredible vessel. It’s very promising for the future.”

The technology fitted to the 30.5-meter (100-foot) boat, which is also equipped with a kite sail, will enable the production of hydrogen through electrolysis process.