In June, a first 5.5-meter prototype sailed on Lake Vioreau, in Loire-Atlantique, validating several technological bricks. It’s a 1/14 scale pilote the future 80-meter autonomous vessel which will be capable, by 2024, of producing electricity, hydrogen or electrofuels, including methanol. The project is carried by Farwind Energy, a start-up from the ocean engineering center of Centrale Nantes.
At scale 1, the ship would be propelled by four Flettner rotors 35 meters high and hydrogenerators, under the hull, would produce electricity. It would be an autonomous, unmanned factory ship carrying storage batteries or electrolysers. In the case of methanol, it would have to be supplied with CO2 by tanker. The sailboat would deliver a power of 2.5 megawatts, or an annual production of 10 gigawatt hours. In hydrogen, that would give 800 kilos per day.
A cost of 18 million
According to Farwind, such a facility at sea will produce more gigawatt hours than a turbine twice as powerful (5 MW) on land, where the winds are more intermittent. “The principle is to seek the wind far from the coast and to overcome the problems of anchoring and connection”, explains Arnaud Poitou, co-founder. The solution “would thus have the double advantage of depreciating the electrolysers more quickly and of having a means of transporting the hydrogen, by unloading it in the ports”.
The company’s ambition is to create catamaran fleets under the supervision of a “watchdog” boat, of the all-weather star type. Even if, at this stage, the regulations do not allow unmanned boats. It targets non-interconnected areas such as islands, primarily the West Indies, but also future demand for green hydrogen for transport or industry including the steel industry, for example in New Caledonia. It intends to finalize the studies at the end of 2022 and launch its first ship in 2024.
To finance it, Farwind wants to raise 9 million euros, or half the cost, and the rest would be covered by aid and public R&D programs. A first fundraising of 1 million has just been completed, in particular with business angels, family offices and Centrale Nantes.
Creation date : 2020
President : Arnaud Poitou
Effective : 10 people
Sector: marine energy