Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited is to develop the world’s first sea-going car and passenger ferry fuelled by hydrogen (H2).

The Port Glasgow-based shipyard successfully led a European consortium in a bid for EU funding support to pave the way for the building and launch of the vessel, named HySeas III.

The supported development is expected to cost around €12.6m of which €9.3m has been awarded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation fund.

The ground-breaking project, jointly led by Ferguson Marine and the University of St Andrews, will formally begin on 1st July and includes Orkney Islands Council; Kongsberg Maritime (Norway); Ballard Power Systems Europe (Denmark); McPhy (France); DLR - German Aerospace Center; and the global trade association for ferry operators and suppliers Interferry (Belgium/US).

“H2 is simply unavoidable if we are to succeed in the energy transition for a better, cleaner and safer future.”

Pascal Mauberger, McPhy’s Chairman and CEO

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 ferry’s fuel will be produced from renewable electricity marking a paradigm shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport. Employing Ballard technology, the initial objective is to construct and prove the vessel’s modular drive train onshore, testing for stress and durability under conditions employing real-world data from existing ships.

HySeas III is planned to operate in and around Orkney, which is already producing H2 in volume from constrained - and hence otherwise wasted - renewable energy. The successful test will allow a vessel to be constructed, in the already assured knowledge that such a vessel can operate safely and efficiently around Scotland’s challenging coast.

FERGUSON MARINE NEW YARD

Source: Ferguson Marine

Pascal Mauberger, Chairman and CEO of McPhy, added, “H2 is simply unavoidable if we are to succeed in the energy transition for a better, cleaner and safer future. By land, rail, air or by sea, H2 shows itself an efficient, reliable and competitive energy.”

“This is what we aim to demonstrate during this specification phase, and we’re proud to bring our expertise and our ‘Augmented’ electrolysers and H2 stations - for boats, but also in the future for H2 trains or buses - to contribute, alongside the HySeas consortium, to design the project’s landside infrastructure.”

“We are delighted to be part of this unique project which opens up the future of decarbonised sea freight.”