Scottish shipyard to build world’s first hydrogen-powered sea-going ferry on the Lower Clyde (with EU green funding)

The Ferguson Marine Engineering shipyard at Port Glasgow which will build the hydrogen-powered ferry
The Ferguson Marine Engineering shipyard at Port Glasgow which will build the hydrogen-powered ferry

One of the few remaining Scottish shipyards is to build the world’s first sea-going renewable-energy powered hydrogen ferry.

The new boat – the Hyseas III – will be built on the Lower Clyde by Fergus Marine Engineering at Port Glasgow.

The consortium that won the £12.5 million contract was headed by Scots engineering magnate Jim McColl OBE, Chairman and Chief Executive of Clyde Blowers Capital.

HySeas III, jointly led by shipyard, Ferguson Marine and the University of St Andrews, also includes Orkney Council; Kongsberg Maritime (Norway); Ballard Power Systems Europe (Denmark); McPhy (France); DLR – German Aerospace Centre; and Interferry (Belgium/US) – the global trade association for ferry operators and suppliers.

The supported development is expected to cost around €12.6 million of which €9.3 million has been awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund.

The vessel’s fuel will be produced from renewable electricity marking a paradigm shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport.

The new boat is planned to operate in and around Orkney – which is already producing hydrogen in volume from constrained – and hence otherwise wasted – renewable energy. HYSEAS III will combine with Surf N Turf hydrogen project on the islands to provide the replacement vessel for the Shapinsay ferry with a hydrogen fuelling facility

Chief Naval Architect Chris Dunn of Ferguson Marine, said: “Over recent years, Ferguson Marine has been at the global forefront of green marine propulsion technology development.

“This exciting project is yet another positive step on that journey and puts us firmly on track to deliver the world’s first zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial ROPAX ferry in 2020.”

The current Shapinsay ferry - which will be replaced by the Hyseas III powered by locally produced hydrogen fuel in Orkney
The current Shapinsay ferry – which will be replaced by the Hyseas III powered by hydrogen fuel locally produced in Orkney.

Gerry Marshall, Ferguson Marine Chief Executive, added: “We now have one of the most innovative and competitive shipyards in Europe which is capable of delivering groundbreaking projects for Inverclyde, Scotland and beyond.

“HySeas III is a living example of how it can be possible to lead the world in marine technology.”

St Andrews’ – the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world – is home to world-class research and development in hydrogen, battery and other energy technologies.

Project Coordinator Dr. Martin Smith from the University of St. Andrews, added: “This opens the real possibility of Scotland and her key European partners delivering another world-first not simply in ship-building but also in building sustainable local sources of fuelling in parallel.”

Dr. Smith previously played a large part in the introduction of hydrogen buses into Scotland – a development which is now set to move beyond Aberdeen with Dundee currently following and other Scottish cities considering fleets of their own.

Jim McColl, whose Clyde Blowers Capital now owns the once-threatened shipyard, commented: “Ferguson’s was the last full-service commercial shipyard on in the River Clyde.

“Since taking over in 2014, we have invested £25 million to bring the yard up to the world-class standards with a new, skilled workforce, that has provided the confidence in leading this hugely important, ground-breaking project.”

20 Jun 2018

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