A consortium is developing new zero emissions ferries in Belfast after securing £60m of funding.
The group, led by Artemis Technologies, has won a £33m UK Government innovation grant to develop zero emissions ferries in the city, that it says will “revolutionise the future of maritime transport”.
A spin-off from the America’s Cup sailing team, Artemis Racing, Artemis Technologies is led by double Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy OBE.
“When we launched Artemis Technologies, we decided to base ourselves in Belfast because of the incredible aerospace and composite engineering talent available,” he said.
“For years, we’ve been designing low energy, high performance solutions for some of the fastest yachts on the planet, and we will now utilise that knowledge, and along with our partners, apply it to build the world's most environmentally friendly high-speed ferries, capable of carrying up to 350 passengers.”
“Our concept for an electric hydrofoil propulsion system is totally unique and will enable vessels of the future to operate with up to 90% less energy, and produce zero emissions during operation.”
It brings together a range of firms and organisations, including: Belfast Harbour, Bombardier Belfast, Northern Ireland Advanced Composites Engineering (NIACE), Creative Composites, Energia, Catalyst, Invest NI, Ulster University, Belfast Met, Queen’s University, Belfast, Ards and North Down Borough Council, and Belfast City Council.
Joe O’Neill, chief executive, Belfast Harbour, said: “As we continue to develop Belfast Harbour as a key economic hub and centre for innovation, we are pleased to partner with Artemis Technologies in this cutting-edge maritime design project which keeps our city firmly on the shipbuilding map.
“Ambitious collaborative partnerships such as this are key enablers to help unlock groundbreaking technical innovations and this project fully aligns to Belfast Harbour’s vision to become one of the world’s greenest and best regional ports.
“Belfast Harbour is already home to a diverse range of businesses and this collaboration will only see that expand while also creating new pathways to employment and economic growth opportunities within Belfast and beyond.”
Suzanne Wylie, chief executive, Belfast City Council, said: “This investment will help our economy recover more quickly, creating jobs and economic prosperity for the city – both key objectives of the Belfast Agenda.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with such talented, forward thinking colleagues to build the first zero emission ferries here. Belfast has a long history of innovation and it’s hugely exciting to know that once again, we’re on the cusp of a significant engineering breakthrough – one which will position us as pioneers in advanced manufacturing, resilience and transitioning to a low carbon economy.”
Michael Ryan CBE, chief operating officer, aerostructures, Bombardier Aviation, said: “As the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland, Bombardier Belfast is a centre of excellence for the design, manufacture and aftermarket support of complex metallic and advanced composite aerostructures and therefore can provide a depth of experience, capability and capacity in support of Artemis Technologies.
“Bombardier Belfast is keen to expand into markets that exploit our capabilities/advanced technology and where there are synergies with novel technologies. The Artemis Technologies project, in our view, represents a credible technology path that could provide a technological ‘step-change’ to the maritime sector and passenger transportation.”
Welcoming the announcement, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “We are all proud of Belfast’s maritime and shipbuilding heritage. However, it is even more exciting to look towards a future which can see Northern Ireland once again leading the way with world-class manufacturing and cutting-edge technology.
“I pay tribute to all those involved in the project which demonstrates so clearly the benefits of collaboration between business, academia and government at all levels. This investment can support economic growth locally, but its impact could be felt globally through solutions to more sustainable transport.”