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Hebrides News


Astudy into the potential of having hydrogen-powered ferries for Scotland has been launched.


The Scottish Government has awarded funding to carry out a feasibility study into developing a hydrogen fuelled ferry service in the Hebrides.


Point and Sandwick Trust is leading the project.


The hydrogen for the ferry would be manufactured using electricity produced on the Lewis moor


If successful the research would lead to the world’s first sea-going hydrogen ferry.


Funding from the Scottish Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, will be used for an initial feasibility study, to be completed by June 2018, to look at the technical and commercial requirements for a west coast hydrogen ferry.


The study will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power and the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers.


Also being examined will be how ship design and engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.


Although hydrogen has been used for small vessels on rivers or coastal routes it has never been used successfully for larger ships on sea-going routes.


Calum Macdonald, development director for Point and Sandwick Trust and the former MP for the Western Isles, said: “We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology.


“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology.


“That is why I am delighted that the Scottish Government has agreed to fund the initial feasibility study to map out the technical, commercial and regulatory challenges to overcome.”


He added: “We hope to produce this first report by the summer and if it indicates that vision is feasible and practical, we can then move onto the development phase with a view to having a ferry operational in the early 2020s.


“I am particularly pleased that the Scottish Government has shown such belief in and support for the community energy sector by asking us to lead the project and, likewise, I am very grateful to the fantastic team of companies that has come together to support the community vision and to help take it forward.”


Mr Macdonald continued: “The Point and Sandwick community broke the glass ceiling by building Britain’s biggest community wind farm in 2015. We hope that our new project will reinforce the message that community enterprise can be as entrepreneurial and innovative as the conventional corporate sector and also that the private and community sectors can work well together on the right project.”


Clark MacFarlane, managing director of Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy UK, said the knowledge gained from the “ground-breaking project” can equally be applied to decarbonising road transport, thus reducing traffic pollution.


Main partners in the project are ITM Power, one of the world’s leading specialists in hydrogen manufacture through electrolysis as well as

ENGIE which is a specialist in the transport and storage of gas.

Wood, a global leader in the delivery of projects, engineering and technical services to energy and industrial markets is also involved.


Other partners include are CMAL who own the Cal Mac ferries, Ferguson Marine shipyard, wind turbine supplier Siemens-Gamesa and Johnston Carmichael which are specialists in renewable finance.



Study into developing hydrogen-powered ferries for Western Isles

21 February 2018

Calum Macdonald says community energy can be used to power ferries