Scottish shipbuilders are developing low carbon, hybrid ferries that will be the first of their kind in the world. The passenger vessels, which are set to make their inaugural voyage in spring 2013, will be able to carry about 150 people, 23 cars or 2 HGVs. This reflects an important step in reducing pollution in the industry because ferries are still allowed to use high-emissions diesel and not held to the strict fuel standards that apply on land.
The battery-powered ships would use cleaner fuels and significantly cut carbon emissions by employing the diesel-electric technology used in hybrid cars. The Guardian reports that the ferries will be 142 feet long and have by "highly efficient diesel generators that will power electric propulsion motors." Batteries that charge overnight will propel the ship and reduce fuel use by at least 20 percent. Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, the company building the ferries, says that they are "also looking at the possibility of using energy from local wind, wave or solar systems to charge the batteries, making the process even more environmentally friendly."
The Scottish government has provided funds to build the ferries as part of a project that they say will both create jobs and reflect a national move towards clean energy. According to the government's press release, "the technology will be cleaner, quieter and cheaper to operate and maintain than ever before..help Scotland to meet our ambitious climate change targets, and demonstrates the vast economic potential of developing green technology and moving to a low carbon economy."