First green submarine amongst winners of clean maritime competition


Green submarine and shipping charge-points powered by offshore wind turbines will receive a share of a £23 million Innovate UK-run R&D competition.

The first ever green submarine study has been named as one of 55 winning projects of a £23 million government funded research and development (R&D) competition. This has been announced today, Wednesday 15 September by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in Greenwich, as part of the greenest ever London international shipping week.

The clean maritime demonstration competition, announced as part of the Prime Minister’s 10 Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution, is supporting the development of innovative technology to propel forward the government’s commitment to have zero emission ships operating commercially by 2025:

  • creating hundreds of highly skilled jobs across the nation
  • establishing the UK as world leaders in clean maritime.

The competition was administered by Innovate UK on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).

Net positive submarine fleet

A fully automated net positive submarine fleet, powered entirely on green hydrogen, could help cleanse the oceans of toxic pollution by collecting microplastics on its pilot route between Glasgow and Belfast.

While transporting cargo shipments, the fleet could secure significant emission savings of 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the first year of operation. The fleet has an overall mission to reduce 300 million tonnes of CO2 emission as it grows.

Also amongst the winners is an all-electric charge-point connected to an offshore wind turbine. The charge-points will be able to power boats using 100% renewable energy generated from the turbine, offering potential savings of up to 131,100 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. This is the equivalent of removing over 62,000 cars from our roads.

Similar to roadside electric vehicle chargepoints, these will be operated by semi-automated control, meaning that sailors can moor up by the wind turbine chargepoint, plug in, charge up, then sail on.

Cutting emissions initiatives

Announcing the winners in Greenwich, the heart of British maritime on the state-of-the art Royal Navy ship, HMS Albion, the Transport Secretary outlined how this is the latest in a string of government initiatives.

Initiatives that are aimed at cutting emissions in the sector as part of London international shipping week, including joining other nations in supporting a world leading absolute zero target for international shipping emissions by 2050.

This comes as Maritime Minister Robert Courts supports the opening of the UK’s greenest cruise terminal. The Horizon Cruise Terminal at the Port of Southampton, Europe’s leading cruise turnaround port, is the first of its kind. It uses an innovative mix of solar panelled roofing and clean energy shore power plug-in charging for ships, which is a pioneering the way towards greener cruising.

The initiatives follow on from the government’s previous commitments outlined in the world-leading transport decarbonisation plan. That is, to explore the establishment of a dedicated function for creating zero-emission ship building and R&D for autonomous vessel sailings, under the function of UK Shore.

Based in the DfT, UK Shore will:

  • unlock the necessary industry investment in clean maritime technologies
  • tackle supply and demand side barriers
  • develop infrastructure and consumer confidence in clean maritime technologies.

Building back greener

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:

As a proud island nation built on our maritime prowess, it is only right that we lead by example when it comes to decarbonising the sector and building back greener.

The projects announced today showcase the best of British innovation: revolutionising existing technology and infrastructure to slash emissions, create jobs and get us another step closer to our decarbonisation targets.

Green infrastructure

Maritime Minister, Robert Courts, said:

As the cruising sector bounces back from the pandemic, it’s important that our environmental commitments are at the heart of everything we do.

Building state-of-the-art green infrastructure at cruise terminals, helps us move towards cleaner cruising: creating more spaces for these ships to dock and putting us on track to hit net zero by 2050.

Meeting net zero goals

Simon Edmonds, deputy executive chair and chief business officer, Innovate UK, said:

As the UK prepares to host COP26 in the maritime city of Glasgow, it is great that we can announce funding for these fantastic projects in the marine sector that will help the UK meet its net zero goals.

From this competition we saw a very high level of demand, we have seen the very best of British ideas from all over the country. It is clear that not only does the UK have a great maritime history, but also a bright and greener future too.

Innovative solutions

Founder and CEO of Oceanways, Dhruv Boruah, said:

We would like to thank our Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, for selecting Oceanways to support DfT’s mission to decarbonise shipping and aid our Prime Minister’s commitment to build back better. Time is running out and it is imperative we don’t settle for 1% more efficiency in an existing system, but instead radically re-think to create innovative solutions.

It is not just #JetZero and Oceanways has assembled a world-class team to pioneer #SubZero by creating the new market of net positive underwater transport systems with zero-emission cargo submarines as an innovative tool to decarbonise shipping and clean up our ocean.

Decarbonising marine operations

Paul Cairns, Managing Director of MJR Power and Automation, said:

We are delighted to have been selected as one of the winners of the clean maritime demonstration competition, which will enable us to demonstrate our world leading technology for offshore charging of vessels, and our commitment to supporting decarbonisation of marine operations.

The support of DfT and Innovate UK is crucial to delivering net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and we are proud to be recipients of their support.

Further information

The clean maritime demonstration competition was significantly oversubscribed with quality bids, demonstrating the first-class capabilities of the UK maritime industry and its appetite to invest in innovation.

In response to the significant amount of quality projects received by Innovate UK, DfT allocated £3.259 million in addition to the original £20 million budget of the clean maritime demonstration competition.

208 UK organisations will receive funding across the whole UK advanced manufacturing, showing Britain’s strengths in clean maritime and levelling up across the union.

This funding is accelerating the development of a 100% renewably powered submarine: the first of its kind for commercial use. Unlike other commercial submarines, this submarine would not generate direct emissions, and produces less radioactive waste than large land-based reactors.

Top image:  Credit: alxpin / Getty Images

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