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Contract awarded to design hydrogen ferry for Shapinsay

The contract to design a hydrogen-fuelled replacement for mv Shapinsay (pictured) has been awarded.

The contract to design a new hydrogen-powered ferry for Shapinsay has been awarded to the Aqualisbraemar LOC Group, Orkney Islands Council (OIC) has confirmed.

Awarded through the HySeas III project by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the contract will see CMAL and the Aqualisbraemar LOC Group work together to design a new double-ended passenger and car ferry which could ply the Kirkwall to Shapinsay route.

The brief for the new ferry includes a capacity for 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks.

 The contract award is the latest stage in the EU-funded HySeas III research programme led by a consortium including Orkney Islands Council, CMAL, St Andrew’s University and several European organisations.

 The aim of the programme is to demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cells can be successfully integrated with a marine hybrid electric drive system — electric propulsion, control gear, batteries etc — along with the associated hydrogen storage and bunkering arrangements.

 Key to the project will be the development, construction, testing and validation of a full-sized drive train on land which, if successful, could pave the way for a seagoing vessel to subsequently use the technology.

Through Orkney Ferries, OIC is responsible for the provision of internal ferry services to Orkney’s inner and outer isles, comprising  of nine dedicated inter-island ferries operating between Orkney’s mainland and thirteen inner and outer isles.

Councillor Graham Sinclair, chairman of OIC’s development and infrastructure committee has welcomed the news.

He said: “As the maritime industry looks to reduce its carbon footprint and makes moves toward emissions free marine transport, the findings and outcomes of research programmes like HySeas III will play a vital role — and to see the programme take such a step forward is heartening.

 “I am proud of the leading role that our communities are playing in these programmes, which let’s not forget – in the year of COP26 – are attracting worldwide attention through the global fight for climate change.  Orkney’s reputation as a leading light in the development of green technologies is down to the tremendous entrepreneurial and go-ahead attitude that exists here whether that be through the private, public or voluntary sector – and Orkney will no doubt continue to play a pivotal role in the months and years to come.”

 For more information on hydrogen projects in Orkney, including the Orkney Hydrogen Strategy, you can visit https://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/Renewable/h2-in-orkney-the-hydrogen-islands.htm