Eco ferries and cargo ships to set sail after £77 million boost

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Plans for eco ferries and cargo ships to be sailing in UK waters within two years moved a step closer thanks to a £77 million funding boost. The government investment will help create thousands of jobs in the UK and lays down the challenge for companies to launch a zero-emission vessel by 2025.

Ministers want Britain to move towards having a “net-zero maritime sector” by the end of the decade.

Last year the UK signed a historic agreement with US, Norway and the Netherlands for “green” shipping lanes that produce no damaging emissions.

Vessels travelling along the corridors will be powered by zero-emission fuel to help improve global air quality.

It is hoped the new funding will help in the development of battery electric vessels, shoreside electrical power, ships running on low-carbon fuels like hydrogen or ammonia, and wind-assisted ferries.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “When it comes to tackling climate change, we are taking action on all transport modes, which is why we’re making sure our world-leading maritime sector has a greener future.

“This multi-million-pound investment will help the latest tech ideas become reality and ensure UK waters will play host to green cargo ships, ferries and cruises in the next few years.

“Our funding will support a cleaner freight system, a more environmentally friendly tourism industry, and a net-zero maritime sector.”

The multi-million-pound Zero Emission Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) competition – launched today (Mon) – will see innovative companies apply for the funding, which must be used to decarbonise technology both on board and shoreside.

Ministers say it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to a new green age for maritime travel which is free from emissions, in line with the 1.5-degree temperature target set by the Paris Agreement.

Defence Secretary and Shipbuilding Tsar, Ben Wallace, said: “Our National Shipbuilding Strategy Refresh set ambitious plans to drive the green maritime revolution as a key step to reaching this Government’s net-zero targets.

“This investment is a clear statement that we are taking these plans seriously, helping to put the UK at the cutting edge of clean maritime technology while benefiting thousands of UK jobs.”

The international maritime sector is responsible for almost three percent of world emissions.

If it were a country, experts say it would be the world’s eighth-largest emitter.

The International Maritime Organisation says 100,000 giant ships sail the world’s oceans, transporting 80 to 90 percent of everything traded internationally.

Most of the vessels are propelled by engines that burn heavy fuel oil – the material left over from refining crude oil.

Large multi-national organisations aim to cut emissions from shipping by 50 percent in the coming years.

Experts are looking at methods to clean up ship emissions and are considering alternative fuels, including liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol. The competition will be overseen by Innovate UK.

The Government is also calling on universities across the UK to join forces to establish a new Clean Maritime Research Hub, with a £7.4million funding boost.

The hub will be delivered in partnership with and co-funded by, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The ZEVI fund and Clean Maritime Research Hub are part of the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE) programme which was launched in March 2022 with £206 million in funding.

UK SHORE aims to tackle shipping emissions and advance the UK towards a sustainable shipping future.

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