YCM inaugurates green hydrogen pontoon, plunging further into sustainable yachting

Prince Albert II has officially launched the Monaco Yacht Club’s first floating pontoon that will be used to produce green hydrogen from renewable energy sources.

On Monday 19th February, Prince Albert inaugurated the high-tech pontoon alongside a number of government officials, including Minister for Public Works, the Environment and Urban Development Céline Caron-Dagioni and Patrice Cellario, Minister of the Interior;

The high-tech autonomous pontoon was developed by SBM Offshore engineers and is their milestone contribution to the upcoming Monaco Energy Boat Challenge.

Moored in the YCM Marina since January, the goal is to fill 30 cylinders and supply eight teams in the Energy Class with green hydrogen for the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, which will be held from 1st to 7th July, to help reduce the event’s carbon footprint and promote the use of eco-responsible energy resources.

“An ever-increasing demand for safe, sustainable, affordable energy presents one of the biggest challenges of our time,” said Francesco Prazzo, General Manager of SBM Offshore. “As offshore pioneers, we are convinced the oceans hold the key to meeting an urgent need for low-carbon solutions, with hydrogen being part of that response.”

Photo credit: H. Mesi, YCM

It is an important advancement for the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, which is this year marking it’s 11th edition.

“It is very satisfying to see how far we have progressed,” said YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri. “Even with limited resources, it is now possible to produce green hydrogen. In line with UN Sustainable Development Goals, and under the collective ‘Monaco, Capital of Advanced Yachting’ approach, the Yacht Club de Monaco continues to maximise initiatives using technology to help protect our ecosystem.”

Tried and tested technology

This type of pontoon has been tested at previous editions of the Monaco Energy Boat Challenge and has undergone numerous improvements. It weighs 1.3 tonnes, has a 20m2 surface area of floating solar panels linked to twice as many batteries to produce hydrogen continuously day and night. Cylinder fill-time is now 1 litre/minute.

The pontoon also incorporates a remote control system to monitor electrolyser flow, battery charge, the heating and cooling system, as well as sensors, alarms and a dehumidifier. For the 11th Monaco Energy Boat Challenge, teams will have a choice between nine litre or 13 litre hydrogen cylinders. Each team is free to estimate its consumption according to its choice of power source with the right to produce energy during a race.

Photo of Prince Albert II with, from left to right: Angelina Fausto, Jean-Marc Cruvelier, Herve Botta, Jean-Marc Hendrikse, Patrick Ferri, Ludovic Abril, Emmanuel Guilloir, and Francesco Prazzo. Credit: H. Mesi, YCM

YCM as a hub of continuous innovation

During the pontoon inauguration, the YCM showcased its various environmental initiatives, including the water treatment and recycling system that has been in place since the summer of 2023. This innovative technology has been developed by Firmus Grey Water Recycling System (FGWRS), a Monaco-based company specialising in grey water and swimming pool water recycling.

Since its instalment, YCM members have been bathing in recycled water instead of drinking water as was the case before. It’s the first time this system has been installed for a pool in Monaco, where it is closely monitored by the Monegasque health authorities, and over one million litres of water have already been treated this way, equivalent to half an Olympic-size pool.

Water from the state of the art FGWRS system is also used to clean boats and to water plants, via a device called Aqua Sail, in the form of recycled water cubes. It is being used by young sailors, regatta competitors including the 400 sailors set to compete in the 40th Primo Cup in March, YCM members and YCM Marina staff, and those using the private Touch & Go pontoon.

All of these initiatives are part of the YCM’s environmental policy, which aims to get everyone thinking about the impact their choices have on our ecosystem. It’s an issue that will be at the heart of debates on Yachting Day, organised by the YCM on Thursday 21st March, during Monaco Ocean Week. A packed program will focus on exploration in collaboration with the Explorer Club based in New York, the Explorer Awards, and the Monaco Smart Yacht Rendezvous.


Interview: Yacht Club de Monaco Director Bernard D’Alessandri

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Main photo credit: H. Mesi, YCM