Navigator and mountaineer, Eric Loizeau lends his name to various programs and events aimed at the fight against pollution and climate change. Denouncing with Race for Water an increasingly important presence of plastic in the oceans, he has sponsored the Green expedition for several years.
“Basically, I’m a sailor. Even though I like mountaineering, which I practice as an amateur, my whole life revolves around the sea to which I am very attached. It gives me a great feeling of freedom that I need. I am also a nature lover ”, defines Eric Loizeau.
“One of my biggest fights is to fight against the pollution of the oceans by plastic. This is why I became one of the ambassadors of the Race for Water foundation, ”he continues. A role that he shares with some twenty personalities as diverse as the designer Zep, the freestyle skier Virginie Faivre, the sailors Gérard d’Aboville and Michel Desjoyeaux, the ecologist Mama Piru, now deceased, the singer Marc Aymon, director Atsuko Quirk, comedian Marina Rollman, etc.
Race for Water
“I’m really glad the Race for Water boat exists, to go on it. During the first round-the-world trip in 2015, in order to carry out an inventory of ocean pollution, its electric motor was powered by solar energy “, recalls Eric Loizeau.
These are 512 m2 of photovoltaic panels, spread over the 23 x 35 m of the building with its extensions, which in this configuration recharge 8 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries (36 hours of navigation possible). The ensemble weighs around 100 tonnes and offers 250 m2 of living space, including 90 m2 of coworking space.
“With systems that do not use fossil fuels, we can do interesting things,” said the navigator ambassador.
The odyssey in progress
This new world tour presents plastic as a plague when it pollutes the oceans, but as a solution to produce electricity via pyrolysis in isolated territories. “For the second odyssey 2017-2021, hydrogen and wind traction with a kite are also used,” explains our interlocutor, who has been sailing since the age of 7.
On board, 200 kilos of hydrogen are stored in 25 bottles at a pressure of 350 bars. Enough to have 6 days of autonomy at 5 knots, via two 30 kW fuel cells to power the engine or recharge the batteries.
“I have some doubts about the use of hydrogen with light vehicles. On the other hand, for heavy goods vehicles, and even more so for maritime transport, I find that it is a good solution to replace diesel and heavy fuel oil ”, comments the one who was Eric Tabarly’s crew on Pen Duick VI during 4 years.
With the 40 m2 autopilot kite deployed at an altitude of 150 m, the speed can be increased to 8 knots. Since April 2017, Race for Water has recorded 320 days of navigation, for 27,417 miles traveled. And this with green energy composed of 62% solar, 20% wind (kite) and 18% hydrogen (seawater desalinated before entering the on-board electrolysers).
“My openness to electric mobility comes from this boat. Initially, I was not very inclined to electric for the automobile. On the other hand, I was already happy with the development of electrically assisted bicycles which allow for a very natural and sporty activity. It was in line with what I discovered with Race for Water “, reveals Eric Loizeau.
“When it comes to mobility, it is important to remain optimistic and to see how to adapt the existing and develop the best solutions,” he said.
Openness to electric mobility
“Thanks to Bruno Ricordeau who organizes the Green Expedition and whom I met thanks to a mutual friend, I discovered what can be done with an electric car. So in Argentina aboard a Tesla Model S, over several thousand kilometers, ”he reports.
“A few Greenpeace kids who know me kindly attacked me by telling me about the lithium battery problem, the mines in Bolivia. “How can you, a navigator, do that !?” they told me. Lithium can be obtained from salt marshes by evaporation. It’s still greener than oil fields! And the batteries can then be reused in a second life, ”he explains.
“In Bolivia, it is above all a political problem. Oil, on the other hand, is a real ecological problem. There is no such thing as a perfect system, but there are some better than others, ”he said.
Arrive on time at the stage
“In Argentina, we had to recharge the batteries using the current in the villages we were passing through. However, I was able to reach all stages on time without having to be repaired. As with Race for Water, which always arrived on time at stopovers, ”Eric Loizeau is delighted in retrospect. “In Norway, with the Green Expedition to the North Cape, I saw that there was a good charging network. This is not yet the case in many countries, ”he says.
After this second adventure in connected cars, the navigator set out again at sea, again using an electric boat in the Antarctic Explorers expedition he led. In a way, this new journey was about taking stock of Antarctica, 200 years after its discovery.
“Raphaël Domjan was one of them. He is at the origin of the PlanetSolar program to make the first round-the-world trip in a solar boat, ”he emphasizes. The PlanetSolar catamaran has since become Race for Water. “Raphael is currently working on his new SolarStratos project, to ascend into space with an electric plane,” he said.
Green Expedition 2021
“In 2021, I will once again be a sponsor and competitor for the Green Expedition on the legendary Aéropostale route, largely in Morocco,” reveals Eric Loizeau. He does not yet know with which machine he will participate.
Bruno Ricordeau, the event’s organizer, imagines: “If he can have an original vehicle, he won’t hesitate. After the Model S in Argentina, he shared Télématin’s ZOE with the journalist host Laurent Bignolas, also very committed to the planet. In 2021, he could do it well with an electric Harley-Davidson or some other prototype. He likes the incongruous “.
The role of sponsor
“Eric is a staunch defender of the planet. It symbolizes the fight against pollution. He is someone with concrete commitment, a real messenger. Every time we visited schools during the Green Expeditions, he spoke to explain to the children the reason for the Race for Water project and the advantages of getting around with electric vehicles. By associating with Futuroscope, it also maintained communication with schools during its Antarctic Explorers, ”admires Bruno Ricordeau.
“In 2021, he will intervene again in schools in Morocco. We will bring them letters, objects and educational tools entrusted by French classes. With a return to them. In this regard, we are still looking for schools to participate in this exchange, as well as adventurers in electric vehicles, ”he calls.
Automobile Propre and I would like to thank Eric Loizeau and Bruno Ricordeau for their availability and their commitment against pollution.