Retrofitted yacht uses off-the-shelf solar & wind products to power its educational journey to Cuba

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Vittoria Energy Expedition is sailing from DC to Cuba, visiting communities along the way where renewable energy is making a difference.

An overhauled and retrofitted 31-foot yacht has been transformed into a floating classroom and mobile renewable energy adventure vessel, with the aim of documenting how communities and individuals are putting clean energy to work for them.

As opposed to some of the other solar and wind powered boats we’ve featured, which entail either cutting-edge or custom renewable energy systems, as well as huge funding investments, the Vittoria Energy Expedition (VEE) team put together its systems entirely from off-the-shelf products that are readily available right now. This approach fits with its mission to highlight the reliability, affordability, and practicality of wind and solar power, and to bridge the gap between the concept of renewable energy and actually employing it.

“The world is changing. In our back yards, across distant lands and oceans, ordinary people are transforming the way we power our lives. Our journey is to uncover their stories. This is why we explore. To see the future. To draw a new map of what’s possible and where we’re going.” – VEE

Vittoria Energy Expedition

© Vittoria Energy Expedition
The Vittoria is said to be capable of producing all of its own electricity, not just for its onboard navigation and lighting systems, but also to power its 14 kW electric motor as well, with the aim of being completely energy-independent on its voyage. The vessel sailed from Washington DC in the fall of 2016, has sailed some 900 miles so far, and is currently in Hilton Head, South Carolina, where it will soon set off again to sail down the coast to Miami and Key West, and from there to Cuba. Along the way, the crew is documenting the ways that renewable energy is changing lives and making a difference in practical and affordable ways, with the intent of bringing those stories to life via digital media and a web video series.

Vittoria Energy Expedition

© Vittoria Energy Expedition

“We believe in learning by doing. Moving beyond talking points into practical application, the team designed and built out our 100% renewable-powered cruising classroom, Vittoria. Using only off-the-shelf clean energy products, the off-grid ship embodies Team Vittoria’s pursuit of energy independence. Sharing lessons learned along the way, we host renewable energy classrooms in the destinations we visit, offering community groups, youth organizations, and local leaders first-hand experience with these readily-available technologies.” – VEE

“I think Vittoria Energy is really about the future. It’s about the future of energy policymaking. It’s about the future of energy thinking. It’s about the future of how we educate and inspire people to think about how we can really deliver on 21st-Century energy technology, which is rooted primarily in renewables.” – Michael K. Dorsey, Sierra Club Board of Directors

The VEE team aims to document the expedition through a combination of film, interactive mapping, and social media, in order to “tell the captivating story of everyday people pioneering real-world energy solutions,” with the renewable energy innovations that are already readily accessible. Find out more at the Vittoria Energy Expedition website.

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An Arts & Ecology Notebook, by Cathy Fitzgerald, whose work exists as ongoing research and is continually inspired to create short films, photographic documentation, and writings. While she interacts with foresters, scientists, and communities, she aims to create a sense of a personal possibility, responsibility and engagement in her local environment that also connects to global environmental concerns.

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