Devon shipyard secures £6m green maritime grant award

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Award winning Devon-based Coastal Workboats Limited (CWL) has today been announced as one of the recipients of a fresh round of funding thanks to the Government’s UK SHORE £60m injection into the maritime industry. Launched in September 2022, the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition’s (CMDC3) third round of funding is part of the Government’s commitment to enable increased tech innovation within the sector to eliminate CO2 emissions, increase efficiencies and decarbonise the industry. Funding is awarded to successful projects from the Department of Transport with Innovate UK acting as delivery partner.

CWL’s successful application secured over £6m to support a £9m project that will deliver a UK-first demonstration of a fully-electric workboat and charging station. CWL are based between Devon and Scotland, with the fresh funding enabling company expansion north of the border. The purpose-built Electric-Landing Utility Vessel (E-LUV) will initially be demonstrated for four weeks in the Shetland Isles in a workboat capacity, running an inter-island route between West Burrafirth and Papa Stour. The route will run twice daily, five days a week, with a one-way journey time of 45 minutes.

As part of the joint project between CWL, Coastal Pure Ltd, BK Marine Ltd and Coastal Workboats Scotland, the prototype is set apart by the onward solution it presents to future commercial workboat applications. Most workboats are deployed in areas with low or no grid power to support recharging of e-vessels. The new E-LUV addresses this via its accompanying shore-based power unit which can be used to recharge the vessel, power other applications and, with its innovative rapid- charging capability, significantly reduce vessel turnaround. The power unit can also be carried on the E-LUV’s deck, significantly extending the vessel’s working range and enabling underway charging.

With international and domestic shipping responsible for 3.4% of the UK’s GHG emissions (DfT, 2019), today’s funding announcement will directly enable CWL to prove their concept to the industry in a real-world application. Electric powered boats are currently restricted to pleasure boats – CWL’s project will stand as a country first demonstration in a commercial setting. The project will also see CWL work closely with the MCA throughout the project to support the creation of a new regulatory framework which will act as a blueprint for the industry to follow going forward.

Today’s CMDC3 announcement comes amid a period of change for the Devon-based company as they also announce their relocation to a new purpose-built head office and factory in Honiton scheduled for 2024, securing jobs for the exceptionally talented workforce. The grant also enables the continued the expansion of CWL’s Scottish division, Coastal Workboats Scotland who are building the E-LUV prototype, at their new premises in Malin Group’s Scottish Marine Technlogy Park on the Clyde.

CWL Director Brian Pogson explains the significance of the timing of today’s award for his company:

“Today’s funding announcement is a fantastic boost to our work. As with all innovation, the most important resource is the knowledge contained within our highly-experienced team – the CMDC3 funding allows us to safeguard jobs as well as expand that knowledge base on both sides of the border. We’ve been hugely excited by the potential of the E-LUV for some time and are eager to see the ways in which its 4-week trial at Papa Stour will encourage much-needed further green development across our industry.”

Speaking ahead of the funding announcement, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:
“Our maritime sector imports 95% of goods into the UK and contributes £116 billion to our economy – more than both aviation and rail combined. With growing the economy one of the Government’s top priorities, we must continue our efforts to ensure the UK remains a pioneer in cutting-edge clean maritime solutions. The funding we’re awarding today will help to do just that, bringing emission-free concepts to life and fuelling innovation.”

Work on CWL’s E-LUV prototype begins 1st April 2023, with the four-week demonstration in the Shetland Isles expected in March 2025 following successful completion of sea-trials and testing.