Orkney receives £15 million funding award for electric ferries

The two vessels are intended to test how electric ferry technology could be used in the islands

Orkney receives £15 million funding award for electric ferries

Artemis Technologies

Electric ship designer Artemis Technologies will be one of the partners in the ‘Electric Orkney’ trial

By Alex Smith |

Orkney has received a £15 million ($18.4 million) funding award for the construction of two electric ferries, which will operate routes in the islands over a three-year trial period.

A twelve-metre ferry will operate a year-round service around the inner North Isles, while a 24-metre vessel will sail between the islands of Eday, Stronsay, Sanday and Westray. It is expected that the 12-metre ferry will be delivered in March 2024, with the 24-metre vessel to follow a year later.

Charging infrastructure will also be installed as part of the ‘Electric Orkney’ project, which will be a partnership between Orkney Islands Council, Artemis Technologies and the European Marine Energy Centre. The trial is intended to demonstrate and test how electric ferries could be used in Orkney in the future. The vessels will remain in the ownership of Orkney Ferries after the trial.

Funding for the project has come from the £80 million ($98.3 million) Zero Emission Vessel and Infrastructure fund, which aims to support economic growth by funding the UK’s decarbonisation efforts. The announcement was made at the start of London International Shipping Week, which is focusing on clean maritime and artificial intelligence to grow the UK’s maritime economy.

“Orkney is so often at the heart of the cutting edge of technology – and with this award we are placing ourselves at very centre of the latest developments in the maritime industry,” said James Stockan, leader of Orkney Islands Council. “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.”

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