World’s first hydrogen powered ferry to be built in Scotland with EU funding

Ben Wray

€9.3million has been awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund towards the project

THE last remaining shipbuilder on the lower Clyde, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL), has successfully led a European consortium to win a bid for EU funding to build the world’s first hydrogen powered ferry.

The vessel named HySeas II and the project will formally begin on the 1 July. It will initially operate in and around Orkney and the fuel produced from renewable electricity marks a shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport. 

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, who yesterday [18 June] addressed the two day Smart Shipping Symposium hosted by the City of Glasgow College Faculty of Nautical Studies, welcomed the news.

Yousaf stated: “I am delighted to see FMEL play their part in winning this landmark bid. This project will also help showcase the skills and facilities on offer at the shipyard. I will be following it with great interest and look forward to seeing Scottish enterprise delivering a world first.”

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The HySeas III project was first initiated with a feasibility study in 2012 by Dr Smith from St Andrew’s University and Jim Anderson of Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited. The university is home to world-class research and development in hydrogen, battery and other energy technologies. Dr Smith previously played a leading role in the introduction of hydrogen buses into Scotland, a development which is now set to move beyond Aberdeen with Dundee currently following and other Scottish cities considering fleets of their own.   

Commenting on the announcement, Smith said: “This is a very exciting stage to be at now. This opens the real possibility of Scotland and her key European partners delivering another world-first not simply in ship-building but also in building sustainable local sources of fuelling in parallel.”  

Jim McColl, Chairman and Chief Executive of Clyde Blowers Capital, which bought the Port Glasgow based Ferguson Marine in 2014 for £600,000, made the announcement while addressing the Smart Shipping Symposium on Tuesday.

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McColl said: “Ferguson’s was the last full-service commercial shipyard on the River Clyde. Since taking over in 2014, we have invested £25 million to bring the yard up to the world-class standards with a new, skilled workforce, that has provided the confidence in leading this hugely important, ground-breaking project.”

In 2012, Ferguson’s launched the MV Hallaig, the world’s first electric battery hybrid ferry. The redeveloped yard achieved another first in November 2017 when it launched the MV Glen Sannox, the first UK ferry built with dual-fuel capability (marine diesel and liquefied natural gas). The Glen Sannox’ sister vessel is currently under construction at the shipyard.  

Chief Naval Architect Chris Dunn of Ferguson Marine said, “Over recent years Ferguson Marine has been at the global forefront of green marine propulsion technology development.  This exciting project is yet another positive step on that journey and puts us firmly on track to deliver the world’s first zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial ROPAX ferry in 2020.” 

The supported development is expected to cost around €12.6 million of which €9.3million has been awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund. The project will be jointly led by Ferguson Marine and the University of St Andrews.

Picture courtesy of Ferguson Marine