Orkney to launch electric hydrofoil ferries for testing
The Scottish archipelago of Orkney will test two all-electric hydrofoil passenger ferries in operation on different routes over a period of three years from March 2024.
The Electric Orkney project, funded by the UK government’s Zero Emission Vessel and Infrastructure Fund (ZEVI) to the tune of £15.5 million, is a collaboration between Orkney Islands Council, Northern Irish electric boat manufacturer Artemis Technologies and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).
The first of the two electric ferries from Artemis with a length of twelve metres and space for twelve passengers is scheduled for launch in March 2024, the second with a length of 24 metres and capacity for up to 50 passengers will follow a year later.
“This work is about looking at how we can, in the future, decarbonise our fleet,” said James Stockan, Orkney’s council leader, adding: “Whilst this is tremendous news, this latest development must not be confused with our drive to secure funding for replacement ferries. This work is about looking at how we can, in the future, decarbonise our fleet – a key point of discussion with the Scottish Government. Securing two vessels of this smaller size is the first stage in that process, allowing us to see how electric vessels might work, with a view to potentially upscaling in the future when further funding packages are in place.”
Interestingly enough, this is not Orkney’s first experience with electrified ferries: In 2018, Ferguson Shipbuilders announced plans to build a hydrogen ferry, which would go on test around Orkey Island starting from 2020 or 2021.