The French may not have them yet, but they soon will. The world’s first low-carbon, battery powered passenger ferries are being built on the banks of the Clyde, and are predicted to take the ferry world by storm – with many ferry firms both here and elsewhere in Europe stating their interest.
Described as the first seagoing hybrid ferry, the first of the ferries to be built will carry holiday makers, islanders and many vehicles across the waters around Skye and the Inner Hebrides firstly, and then will hopefully progress to being adopted by other European ferry firms too. Many people are questioning whether the idea will take off however, but manufacturers and designers alike believe it will be a big step forward for ferry travel in general.
The ferries, which will be 43.5 metres long, will be kitted out with highly efficient diesel generators that will power electric propulsion motors and will see the batteries aboard each boat providing power to the propulsion units, and in turn reducing fuel use by at least 20 per cent. The batteries will then be recharged while the vessels are moored up overnight. With the shipping industry constantly in the limelight for using highly polluting diesel and constantly facing pressure to use cleaner fuels and more efficient engines, this could be a way to clean up the image of the shipping world as a whole. The design is expected to cut carbon emissions, reduce fuel consumption and also reduce air pollution.