Zero-emission ferries, cruises and cargo ships will set sail in UK waters within two years, thanks to a £77 million (€86 million) government investment in clean maritime technology.

Wight Link's all electric ferry

Source: Wight Link

The UK Government wants more zero-emission ferries, cruises and cargo ships to set sail in UK waters within two years

This is the first time in UK history the government has intervened to specifically target this level of funding at green maritime tech to get it from the factory to the sea.

“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,” said Mark Harper, UK Transport Secretary.

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

Innovation competition

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

Successful projects must be able to show they could use this money to work with major UK ports and operators to launch a zero-emission vessel by 2025 at the latest.

Examples of such technology include battery electric vessels, shoreside electrical power, ships running on low carbon fuels like hydrogen or ammonia, and wind-assisted ferries.

The competition will be overseen by Innovate UK, which has a record of delivering similar competitions across government.

Aside from the funding, the government is calling on universities across the UK to join forces to establish a new Clean Maritime Research Hub, with £7.4 million from government and additional funding from academia and industry.

Research in the fundamental science behind clean maritime technologies will be delivered by the hub, building evidence and expertise for the maritime sector. It will also support skills development across the industry and generate knowledge for maritime decision-makers.

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 (€230 million) in funding. UK SHORE aims to tackle shipping emissions and advance the UK towards a sustainable shipping future.