First glimpse of CalMac’s future green ferry

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The first renderings of the Scottish-led HYSEAS III project, which aims to build Europe’s first sea-going ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells, have been completed.

The drawings show what the vessel, which will store energy from renewable sources, is likely to look like. As a double-ended sea-going passenger and car ferry, it will have capacity for 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks.

It has been designed to operate on the route between Kirkwall and Shapinsay in Orkney, where hydrogen fuel is generated through wind power, although it will be capable of operating at other ports where hydrogen could become available in the future.

The EU-funded HYSEAS III programme involves partners St. Andrew’s University, Orkney Islands Council, and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which owns CalMac’s ferries and ports.

The designs, by AqualisBraemar LOC Group, show how a vessel purely powered by renewable energy may look and will provide a blueprint to the further development of zero-emissions ferry travel.

The next stage of the project will see the consortium seek feasibility approval in principle of the designs from the DNV Classification Society.

String testing is also currently under way in Bergen, Norway to demonstrate the complete fuel cell/battery/multidrive/propulsion. The full size string test mirrors the load requirements of the new ferry on the Shapinsay to Kirkwall route, and will confirm power and fuel capacity requirements. The results will provide valuable information, which will be fed back to the team to be incorporated into the design.

The design will be complete in March 2022, at which point CMAL will seek funding partners to take the approved design to the procurement stage, which will lead on to the eventual tendering and construction of the vessel.

John Salton, fleet manager and projects director at CMAL said: ‘We know that maritime transport remains the UK’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and our Hyseas III project will pave the way for the first seagoing vessel using purely renewable energy.

‘Seeing the concept designs brings the project to life. The vessel design is broadly based on our larger loch class vessels, which are double-ended. Once the designs are approved, we will move to the next stage of the project, which will see the build of the engine to be used in feasibility studies.

‘The maritime industry has a key role in the global fight for climate change, and this project marks a step toward emissions-free marine transport.’

CMAL owns 36 ferries. Thirty-one vessels are leased to CalMac Ferries Ltd on routes to the islands and peninsulas of the west of Scotland. Five vessels are leased to Serco Northlink Ferries for Orkney and Shetland routes.