UK’s first electric ferry launches

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The UK’s first seagoing electric ferry, e-Voyager, has set sail from Plymouth in southwestern England. Formerly fitted with a diesel engine, the vessel has been completely rebuilt over several months and will now undergo rigorous trials – including assessments of its emissions – before it carries its first paying passengers in April 2021.

The ferry has been designed and developed by a consortium that includes Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine, in partnership with the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter, Teignbridge Propellers and EVParts UK.

The project leader for Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine, Andy Hurley, commented, “It’s hugely exciting to see the launch of e-Voyager and the result of such a progressive collaboration to create a cleaner and more sustainable future for the marine industry. Through developing the technology and maritime applications, Voyager Marine is helping to place Plymouth and the Southwest as UK leaders in the conversion and new-build of zero-carbon, fully electric commercial vessels.”

The e-Voyager is powered by repurposed Nissan Leaf batteries, which the project participants say will reduced servicing issues. Technology company EVParts has installed an electric motor, together with fly-by-wire controls, to replace the traditional diesel engine, a process that it claims will be directly transferable in under 24m commercial vessels. Meanwhile, through duty cycle modeling and advanced simulation of propeller performance, Teignbridge Propellers states it has worked to ensure every kilowatt hour of battery capacity is put to efficient use, ensuring maximum vessel range.

Plymouth City Council is set to install three 22kWh chargers on the port’s Barbican Landing Stage, permitting a full charge time of around three hours. The vessel will be charged overnight when berthing, providing enough power to run for a full day and complete its journey requirements on a single charge. If required, the boat will plug in and recharge between runs as passengers embark.

The project partners say they are now progressing to the conversion of larger passenger vessels in Plymouth Boat Trips’ fleet of cruise boats and ferries, operating within Plymouth Sound.

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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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