UK boatyard gains funding for e-ferry

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UK-based Voyager Boatyard has successfully bid for funding from Innovate UK to design and build an e-ferry. The fully electric boat will become the flagship vessel on Plymouth Boat Trips’ Cremyll Ferry commuter route between Plymouth and southeast Cornwall. Following the company’s recent conversion of a small, diesel work boat to the e-Voyager, a 12-passenger electric vessel, the larger, 150-capacity vessel will operate for up to 14 hours a day on a single charge.

The team at Voyager Boatyard says it has taken full advantage of quieter times caused by Covid-19 to focus on the development of zero-carbon, fully electric propulsion systems for the domestic passenger vessel and under-24m commercial workboat sectors.

Project leader, Andy Hurley, explained, “We have used the downtime to apply for funding that will enable us to further develop our zero-carbon agenda. Following the success of e-Voyager, we’re delighted to move to the next phase and, once again, lead the way toward a sustainable marine future with e-ferry.”

Voyager Marine and Plymouth Boat Trips will be working with Solis Marine Engineering, a team of expert naval architects, to create a clean, hydrodynamically efficient hull form that maximizes the use of the stored energy available.

Simon Hindley, managing director of Falmouth-based Solis Marine Engineering, said, “Projects that advance the zero-carbon agenda and marine renewables sector are central to our work. For this project, we will be working in partnership with Pelagic Design to deliver an optimized low-resistance design that helps to advance the use of clean energy in the South West.”

Both Plymouth City Council and Cornwall County Council have established targets to become carbon neutral by 2030, and plans are underway for charging points to be installed on Plymouth’s Barbican Landing Stage and other sites.

The e-ferry will be designed and built to operate effectively in a congested maritime environment with strong tidal conditions, rough seas and challenging berthing locations. It will include additional zero-carbon solutions such as photovoltaic panels or similar renewable-energy sources.

Hurley continued, “Our aims match the government’s clean maritime plan, to have zero-carbon commercial vessels operating in UK waters by 2025. To help meet this objective, we are transitioning our business from a traditional boatyard to a specialist hub with the knowledge base and skills to design, build, convert and maintain zero-carbon, electric, commercial vessels across the UK and globally. It’s a very exciting time for the maritime industry and the South West.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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