UK’s first sea-going electric ferry launches in Plymouth

The UK’s first sea-going electric ferry has set sail for the first time in Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City.

The e-Voyager is the result of a ground-breaking project designed to reduce the environmental impact of maritime transport on our coastal waters.

It 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 vessel has been designed and developed by Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine, Cornwall in partnership with the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter, Teignbridge Propellers and EV Parts.

Project leader for Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine, Andy Hurley, said:

“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 South West as UK leaders in the conversion and new build of zero-carbon, fully electric commercial vessels.”

Dr Richard Pemberton, Lecturer in Mechanical and Marine Engineering Design at the University of Plymouth, added:

“Through our diverse mix of staff and specialisms, the University of Plymouth has supported Plymouth Boat Trips and its partners in both data analysis and regulatory advice. The University firmly believes that the work conducted on e-Voyager will pave the way for larger scale innovation towards meeting the Government’s target of a 50% reduction in emissions from the maritime sector by 2050.”

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e-Voyager

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The project has been funded through the £1.4million Clean Maritime Call: a Maritime Research and Innovation UK (MarRI-UK) initiative supported by the Department for Transport (DfT) and launched to support the UK’s goal of zero emission shipping.

The work has also been supported extensively through the £6.4million Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab and the £4million Marine Business Technology Centre, both part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The e-Voyager will be 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 have 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.

The motors, energy storage, control and charging systems are now being tested in a real-world environment, enabling the team to gain approval from regulatory bodies so they can be used in vessels across the sector and carry passengers.

Through duty cycle modelling and advanced simulation of propeller performance, Teignbridge Propellers have worked to ensure every kilowatt hour of battery capacity is put to efficient use, ensuring maximum vessel range and safe and effective handling.

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. 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.

e-Voyager will also be the first vessel to have been recognised by both the MCA and a Classification Society as satisfying the exacting standards of both organisations.

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

Environmental Futures and Big Data Impact Lab

This project gives Devon-based SMEs the opportunity to work collaboratively with our scientists and technologists to develop new products, services or processes with a focus on big data and safeguarding the environment.

Find out more about Impact Lab here

Marine Business Technology Centre (MBTC)

Offering in-depth product testing and development of marine-related technologies, the Marine Business Technology Centre is supported by the vast knowledge and assets from the University of Plymouth and wider network of expert marine organisations.

Technology development and solutions for marine businesses in Devon

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