Clean maritime: all-electric Shetland Islands ferry gets funding

Coastal image with a boat sailing across the sea.

A UK-first demonstration of a fully electric workboat and charging station gets the go-ahead thanks to £6 million UK government funding.

One of the UK’s leading boatbuilders has taken on the challenge of designing and building the first all-electric workboat for the Shetland Islands.

Innovative design

The purpose-built Electric-Landing Utility Vessel (E-LUV) will be demonstrated initially for four weeks, operating as a workboat or ferry between West Burrafirth and Papa Stour. Each trip will take 45 minutes and the E-LUV will run twice daily, five days a week.

The area is especially challenging as the islands have low grid power to support the recharging of electric vessels so the design needs to include some innovative solutions.

The purpose-built Electric-Landing Utility Vessel developed by Coastal Workboats.

The purpose-built E-LUV developed by Coastal Workboats.
Credit: Coastal Workboats

Rapid charging capability

The prototype will incorporate a shore-based power unit with rapid-charging capability to reduce turnaround times. This power unit can also be carried on board the E-LUV to extend the range of the vessel.

Project scope

The project is being led by Devon-based Coastal Workboats partnering with Coastal Pure, Coastal Workboats Scotland and BK Marine, a commercial boat operator based in the Shetland Islands.

Founding Director, Julie Pogson, said:

We’re working hard to build a really tough boat that will be able to provide a critical service in often difficult conditions around the Shetland Islands.

We’ll be maximising battery storage and matching the power of a conventional vessel with a similar operating profile. Using electric drives instead of a diesel engine will also be safer and need less maintenance.

It will be a UK-first demonstration of electric workboats in a commercial environment and will see the team working closely with the Maritime Coastguard Agency to enable this innovative vessel demonstration.

The fully-electric inter-island workboat demonstration project is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3). This has allocated £60 million to 19 projects from across the UK to deliver real world demonstration projects in clean maritime solutions between April 2023 to March 2025.

About the funding

CMDC is funded by the Department for Transport as part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions programme and is being delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

Julie added:

We were absolutely ecstatic when we heard we’d got the funding. It’s a game-changer for our business – a massive challenge, too, but one we’re going to rise to because it will transform our future.

Our aim is to become a leading UK designer and builder of zero-emission commercial workboats and this funding will help us achieve that.

Top image:  Credit: Coastal Workboats

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