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e-voyager electric ferry

UK’s first electric ferry will take to the seas in 2021

Image credit: Plymouth Boat Trips’

The UK’s first sea-going electric ferry, which uses repurposed batteries from Nissan’s Leaf electric cars, is being tested in waters near Portsmouth.

It is expected that 12 passengers will be allowed to travel at a time on Plymouth Boat Trips’ ferry routes from April 2021.

Engineering firm EV Parts has designed the craft, called e-Voyager, including its battery storage and motor system.

Using an advanced electric motor, together with fly-by-wire controls, the system entirely replaces the traditional diesel engine. The process can be replicated for many commercial vessels under 24 metres long.

Motors, energy storage, control and charging systems are now being tested in a real-world environment in order to gain approval from regulatory bodies so they can be used in passenger vessels across the marine sector.

University of Plymouth scientists carried out research during the build, measuring emissions including noise pollution and air pollution, and assessing fuel consumption.

Plymouth City Council will install three 22 kWh chargers on the seafront, and using this system, e-Voyager will take under three hours to achieve a full charge.

The vessel will be charged overnight when berthing, which should provide enough power to run for a full day and complete its journey on a single charge. If required, the boat can plug in and recharge between runs as passengers embark.

The council is working with local ferry companies to further develop a charging infrastructure for marine transport in the city.

Project leader for Plymouth Boat Trips 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 said: “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 per cent reduction in emissions from the maritime sector by 2050.”

In September, an electric-powered hydrofoil speedboat that reduces energy consumption, noise, and seasickness by ‘flying’ above the waves made its debut on lakes in Switzerland.

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