Australian high speed ferry designer and builder Incat Tasmania says it is currently in discussions to deliver what should prove to be the world’s first large, lightweight, zero emissions ferry.
Among vessels currently under construction at Incat is a 130m lightweight ferry, originally intended to be fuelled by LNG, that will carry 2100 passengers and 226 vehicles for Incat’s long term South American customer, Buquebús. Incat was recently asked by the customer to investigate the possibility of replacing the LNG powerplant with a battery-electric solution.
Incat recognises that there are challenges to overcome, but changing the propulsion plant to battery-electric would result in the ship, due to be delivered in 2025, becoming the world’s largest, lightweight, zero emissions ferry operating on any route.
Incat Tasmania considers that it always been an innovator, ahead of the technology curve and the delivery of an electric zero emissions ferry will place the company as the leader in zero emissions, lightweight shipping.
Incat Group Chairman and Founder Robert Clifford said: “The customer wants this to happen, Incat wants this to happen, and whilst there are matters to be finalised, I am extremely confident that Incat can deliver this ground-breaking ship. In my experience unless we see something come in from left field, this is a ‘done deal’. Obviously, there needs to be sufficient energy supply in the ports that the ship would visit but we understand that this is progressing positively. The batteries and electric motors are being worked through with our suppliers, to ensure they can deliver the technology required in the timeframe we need them. Zero emissions shipping is the future and Incat based in Tasmania, one of the few places on the planet which has already delivered net zero, is now poised to revolutionise the world’s shipping fleet by delivering the world’s first zero emissions, lightweight ship.”
Incat MD Craig Clifford said: “This is a unique opportunity for Incat. Whilst there are always challenges if you change any aspect of the design of a ship part way through build, in simple terms, this is just swapping one method of propulsion for another: it will however have significant environmental benefits, and open up a whole new market for these types of vessels.”
Former Tasmanian Premier and Incat Strategic Adviser Peter Gutwein said: “Delivering the world’s first large battery electric ferry for Buquebus would lead to exponential growth in the international market for large lightweight electric ships. The world wants large, lightweight zero emission ships and we are already scaling up our workforce and production facility in readiness for what will be a significant expansion. It will be a win-win for both the environment and for investment in long-term skilled jobs in Tasmania.”