New electric ferries take to the water in Plymouth and Paris

New electric ferries take to the water in Plymouth and Paris
New electric ferries take to the water in Plymouth and Paris

The UK’s first sea-going electric ferries has set sail for the first time in Plymouth. Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine, Cornwall has partnered with the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter, Teignbridge Propellers, MarRi-UK and EV Parts UK to make the project come to life.

Funded through the £1.4m Clean Maritime Call, a Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative supported by the Department for Transport (DfT), the project’s part of the UK’s goal of zero emission shipping.

The boat has been completely rebuilt over several months and will undergo rigorous trials – including assessments of its emissions – before it carries its first paying passengers in April 2021.

“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,” says Andy Hurley, project leader for Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine.

The e-Voyager is powered by repurposed, Nissan Leaf batteries, meaning they will need almost no maintenance and have clear commercial benefits for businesses in the marine sector. Scientists from the University of Plymouth carried out research during the build, measuring emissions including noise pollution, air pollution and fuel consumption.

Engineering technology company EV Parts has installed an advanced electric motor, together with fly-by-wire controls, to replace the traditional diesel engine, a process which will be directly transferable in under 24m commercial vessels.

Plymouth City Council will install three 22 kWh chargers on the Barbican Landing Stage, meaning it will take under three hours to achieve a full charge.

Whilst in Paris, Bellmarine has launched its new electric vessel. Following the launch using a system by its brand Bellmarine, Fischer Panda UK is highlighting its strengthened capabilities to collaborate with boat builders on projects to launch more electric powered vessels onto UK waters.

The company is reporting an increase in enquiries for electric power solutions as OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and boat owners look to benefit from the low cost and maintenance, high efficiency, silent cruising, and environmentally friendly features of electric drive systems.

As the exclusive UK distributor for Bellmarine, Fischer Panda offers similar systems to the one recently installed on the first of two 8.3m passenger boats to operate in Paris. Suitable for up to 12 people plus the skipper and with an autonomy of 24 hours, the vessel has a Bellmarine Transfluid electric system with two 15kW SailMasters, which are water-cooled and powered by lithium batteries. The ferry travels in silence at an average speed of 15km/h.

“Everyone is much more aware today of the need to protect the environment surrounding our inland waterways and rivers,” says Chris Fower, director of sales and marketing. “We are seeing a definite increase in interest about our electric and hybrid electric drive systems, both for newly built vessels or retro-fitting. We already work with leading builders such as Elton Moss and we are keen to work with more OEMs to use our experience and full system capabilities in finding the best solution for each application.”

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