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Transport / Electric boat to be trialled between West Burrafirth and Papa Stour after government funding award

Money has also gone to a project to deliver a four to five tonne load from Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland on a hydrogen powered vessel

Digital render of the new Coastal Workboats E-LUV prototype.

MILLIONS of pounds of funding has been awarded to a project which will trial a fully electric boat between West Burrafirth to Papa Stour.

The month-long demonstration, said to be the first of its kind in the UK, is due to take place in March 2025 following sea trials and testing.

The E-LUV project is being led by Coastal Workboats, a company based in Devon and Scotland that has now attracted significant funding from the UK Government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

More than £6 million has been awarded for the project – although its total cost is projected to be around £9 million. It will also involve local company BK Marine.

The boat in question would be recharged by an onshore power unit, which can also be carried on deck.

During the trial the workboat is scheduled run twice daily, five days a week, with the one-way journey lasting 45 minutes.

Coastal Workboats said the shore-based power unit which is being proposed could be used to recharge the vessel, power other applications and, “with its innovative rapid- charging capability, significantly reduce vessel turnaround”.

The company said the trial would “prove their concept to the industry in a real-world application – electric powered boats are currently restricted to pleasure boats”.

The project will also see Coastal Workboats collaborate closely with the MCA [Maritime and Coastguard Agency] throughout the project to support the creation of a new regulatory framework which will act as a blueprint for the industry in the future.

Coastal Workboats Limited director Brian Pogson said: “As with all innovation, the most important resource is the knowledge contained within our highly-experienced team – the CMDC3 funding allows us to safeguard jobs as well as expand that knowledge base on both sides of the border.

“We’ve been hugely excited by the potential of the E-LUV for some time and are eager to see the ways in which its four-week trial at Papa Stour will encourage much-needed further green development across our industry.”

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The government’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition focuses on developing a range of new maritime technologies including hydrogen, ammonia, electric and wind power.

Evolving marine technology is of interest locally considering around half of Shetland Islands Council’s emissions come from the diesel-powered inter-island ferry fleet, whilst the fishing fleet is similarly using fuel.

Shetland Islands Council, which operates the ferry between West Burrafirth and Papa Stour, has been contacted by Shetland News regarding the trial.

The Papa Stour project, however, is not the only Shetland connection in the latest round of Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition funding awards.

A company which is developing hydrogen powered, uncrewed vessels has also secured funding to deliver a four to five tonne payload by sea from Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland.

It will demonstrate Acua Ocean’s zero-emission technology in a variety of sea states and weather conditions as well as its endurance, stability and reliability.

The company said the project will show the “benefits of green short-sea shipping” compared to alternatives like flying items by autonomous drone. It has received more than £3.5 million in funding.

UK Government transport secretary Mark Harper said: “Our maritime sector imports 95 per cent of goods into the UK and contributes £116 billion to our economy – more than both aviation and rail combined.

“With growing the economy one of the government’s top priorities, we must continue our efforts to ensure the UK remains a pioneer in cutting-edge clean maritime solutions.”

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