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Marine / Project to create fully electric boat gathers pace

Malakoff's welding engineer and contracts manager Ryan Stevenson with graduate naval architect Leah Cumming. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

A LOCAL project to create a small, fully electric workboat has received funding from the UK Government.

The catamaran Malakoff will make will only be eight metres in length, but welding engineer and contracts manager Ryan Stevenson said the hope is that it will “lay the groundwork for a range of electric workboats” in future.

The £30,000 of funding is coming from the UK Government’s transport research innovation grants scheme. Its latest round of funding has awarded nearly £2 million to just over 50 projects.

Assessments being done on the boat design.

While the funding is new, the vessel’s design has been worked on for some time, with Malakoff also investing in the project.

“Everything up to now has been on paper design work, hull optimisation, structural design, stability assessments, feasibility studies, but we now have the parts for the electric drives on order so hopefully in the next few weeks the project will become more real,” Stevenson said.

“Hopefully it will show that these type of projects can actually be achieved and can be completed in Shetland.”

The marine industry is key to Shetland, but fuel powered boats are obviously not best suited to the drive towards net zero.

As a result, maritime decarbonisation was one of four key themes in the latest round of government funding.

In this instance the hull has been designed to try and minimise turbulence, which equates to less resistance.

“The project is trying to minimise hull resistance so that the power requirement can be reduced and the endurance – operational capacity – of an electric drive can be increased,” Stevenson explained.

“There is a trade-off here between hull resistance, stability, seakeeping ability and buildability so we have tried to balance this as best we can.

“The boat is not designed for high speeds or good looks – it is mainly a trial to see what we can achieve under electric power.”