VENDÉE GLOBE: ACCIONA – 100% ECO-POWERED

“ACCIONA has created the world’s first-ever zero-emissions sailboat and it meets the standards of the world’s most extreme yachting event, the Vendée Globe, a lone, non-stop, round-the-world race, scheduled for November 2012. Right from the word go, the vessel was designed with sustainability firmly in mind and it is ready to take on all challengers…but without using single drop of fossil fuel.” With the use of wind generators, solar panels, hydro generators and a fuel cell, ACCIONA is successfully managing to eco-power the whole boat and keep pace with the Vendée Globe fleet.

ACCIONA’s hydro generators are set up like all the other boats in the Vendee Globe, placed on the back of the transom with a system to lift them in and out of the water. When they are in place. the generators blades auto adjust to find the perfect angle for generating power according to the waters speed. While Sanso’s wind power generators can produce 400 watts at a wind speed of 25 knots.

Solar panels contribute a huge proportion of the boats power, with panels placed on both the port and starboard sides as well as on the upper part of the stern. The panels are light activated and are made up of a number of cells that generate electricity by exchanging sunlight for electrons, with a performance of up to 20-21%. It is said that the sun radiates at 1 kilowatt per square meter, each panel on ACCIONA is 1 square meter. It has been worked out that the boat produces roughly 200 kilowatts. This is enough power alone, that if running at full capacity,to power the boats autopilot for the whole race.

Alongside the wind and hydro generators and solar panels, ACCIONA also has a fuel cell which runs off of hydrogen. Additionally, the boat uses an electric motor, which runs equivalently to a 40 horsepower diesel engine.

There are also a total of 6 x 160 amp batteries on board with each individual block delivering 24 volts. On ACCIONA, the blocks are doubled up, so in all there are three blocks of 48 volts each at 160 amps.

Sanso is currently lying in 8th having just rounded Cape Horn and has not suffered any problems with power so far this race unlike many of the other skippers, now over two months in. Perhaps the success and reliability of ACCIONA will lead to green energy sources becoming more widely used in offshore racing and particularly the Vendée Globe.

“I have not used hydro generators in the southern hemisphere yet, I am keeping them as back up. They work perfectly, but I have not used them since the Equator. Last time I used them was near Cape Verde. I charge the batteries 100% every day. Since I crossed the Equator I think once I did not have 100%, I had 98%. So, my solar panels are working really well. I’m very confident with the system.” – Janvier Sanso