Plymouth to host UK’s first charging network for electric maritime vessels

Plymouth is set to become the first city in the UK to install a network of shore-side charging facilities for its expanding fleet of electric maritime vessels.

The Marine e-Charging Living Lab project will provide the pivotal infrastructure required to accelerate clean maritime innovation and growth.

Over the past year, the city has become home to the UK’s first marine electric passenger ferry and an electric water taxi that will operate 364 days a year.

However, access to infrastructure is currently a barrier to ensuring further growth in this emerging sector can happen in a coordinated and sustainable way.

With that in mind, a consortium of city partners is joining forces to create Plymouth’s Marine e-Charging Living Lab (MeLL), which will provide the pivotal infrastructure required to accelerate innovation and growth.

The project has received more than £570,000 funding as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

It will develop a network of charging facilities around Plymouth Sound, offering multiple, flexible sites and responding to the Maritime 2050 route map for maritime net zero.

The project is being led by the University of Plymouth in partnership with Plymouth City Council, Princess Yachts Limited and Aqua SuperPower.

Between now and March 2022, it will identify suitable locations for charging facilities that can be easily linked to the National Grid while meeting both consumer and commercial demand. It will also develop and deploy an array of sensor technologies that can assess the environmental and operational impacts of e-charging.

The scheme furthers Plymouth’s reputation as a centre of excellence in clean maritime innovation, and will be designed to complement existing and emerging initiatives including Oceansgate, Smart Sound Plymouth, the Plymouth Freeport and the UK’s first National Marine Park.

Professor Will Blake, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute at the University of Plymouth, said: “This is an exciting project that has the real potential to showcase Plymouth as a trail blazer in clean maritime innovation. It builds on our existing partnerships and shows that there is a concerted effort to make positive and lasting changes that will benefit both our city and the environment as a whole.

“The University has a long track record of using its world-leading sustainability research and partnerships to both highlight challenges and develop new ways of working. This project, and the opportunities it brings, is the perfect way to continue expanding that work.”

Alex Bamberg, CEO of AQUA SuperPower, said: “We are privileged to work with the University of Plymouth, Plymouth City Council and a premiere yacht manufacturer like Princess Yachts. In deploying our world first dedicated marine fast charge network as part of the project, we are creating the landscape towards decarbonization of the marine environment. Our team has an extensive background in developing and establishing DC charge network infrastructure and as a UK company, we very much look forward to bringing our knowledge and technology to the MeLL project.

“This is the start of a network originating from Plymouth to build a marine e-mobility corridor and establishing a centre of excellence in marine charging. Aqua are the first fast charge network company to be awarded a grant under the Innovate UK Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition and we very much look forward to contributing to the success of this important project with our partners.”

Kiran Haslam, Chief Marketing Officer and Board Member for Sustainability, Princess Yachts, said: “Sustainability is a major focus at Princess and we have given ourselves some tough targets to meet in terms of reducing our carbon emissions – including a reduction in manufacturing CO2 emissions by over 20 per cent by 2023. We have become the conservation custodians of marine environments such as Eddystone Reef, and are very much focused on waste reduction with an ongoing shift towards clean energy across all our manufacturing sites.

“So, it is with great pleasure that we are now also able to contribute in a meaningful way to Plymouth’s Marine e-Charging Living Lab (MeLL). Working with the innovative team at the University of Plymouth and supported by Plymouth City Council, we are proud to be a part of the team which will help develop the pivotal infrastructure required to provide a suitable network of marine charging facilities in the Plymouth area, continuing to build upon the city’s great work in clean maritime innovation.”

Image: courtesy Plymouth University

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