Scottish Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil

Hybrid ferries being built in Scotland

The world's first hybrid ferries will be built in Scotland, creating 100 jobs.

Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, won a £22 million contract to build two diesel-electric and battery-powered ferries.

The vessels will each accommodate 150 passengers and 23 cars and will be powered by battery banks and a small diesel generator which feeds power to a switchboard, turning the propeller motors.

Battery power has been used for decades on naval submarines but is a new technology for ferries. The project is due for completion in 2013 and is a boost for shipbuilding on the Clyde, with the last commercial ship fully built on the river completed in 2007.

Scottish Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil said: "This award is a perfect illustration of how we are making good on our commitment to create the vital jobs needed to boost local economies and, crucially, to help stimulate growth across Scotland.

"The two new ferries will come into operation in 2013 and are the world's first seagoing passenger and vehicle roll-on, roll-off ferries to incorporate a low-carbon hybrid system of diesel electric and battery power.

"The technology will be cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before. It will help Scotland to meet our ambitious climate change targets, and demonstrates the vast economic potential of developing green technology and moving to a low carbon economy."

The boats, operated by CalMac Ferries, current operator of Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services, are designed for use on short-crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides.

The first of the two new vessels is expected to be running on the Sconser-Raasay route on Skye by the middle of 2013, with the second ferry coming into operation later that year.

Richard Deane, managing director of Ferguson Shipbuilders, said: "The Clyde has a proud shipbuilding heritage and it is wonderful to be part of such a groundbreaking project which will see the world's first hybrid ferries sailing in Scotland.

"The project will have a major impact on the local economy, including the creation of a number of new jobs throughout the course of the build. We look forward to signing the contracts and starting work in due course."

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