Launch of UK’s first sea-going electric ferry

Plymouth Boat Trips and Voyager Marine have launched e-Voyager, the UK’s first sea-going electric ferry.

Designed and developed in partnership with the University of Plymouth, the University of Exeter, Teignbridge Propellers, MarRI-UK and EV Parts, the green ferry will now undergo sea trials before carrying passengers on Plymouth Boat Trips’ ferry routes from April 2021.

The project has been funded through the £1.4 million 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. Support from the universities came via Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab, a £6.4 million project to support small businesses, and the £4 million Marine Business Technology Centre, both part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Engineering technology company, EV Parts, designed the battery storage and motor installation. An advanced electric motor, together with fly-by-wire controls, have replaced 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, which Plymouth Boat Trips says will enable the team to gain approval from regulatory bodies so they can be used in vessels across the sector and carry passengers.

Plymouth Boat Trips highlighted the repurposed, Nissan Leaf batteries, used in e-Voyager, which the company say ‘present clear commercial benefits’ for businesses in the marine sector. The University of Plymouth’s scientists carried out research during the build, measuring emissions including noise pollution, air pollution and fuel consumption.

Plymouth City Council will install three 22 kWh chargers on the Barbican Landing Stage, and using this system, e-Voyager 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 on a single charge. The council is also said to be working with local ferry companies to further develop a charging infrastructure for marine transport in the city.

According to Plymouth Boat Trips, e-Voyager will be the first vessel to have been recognised by both the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and a Classification Society, for satisfying the exacting standards of both organisations. 

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

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry