South American ferry operator Buquebús is in talks with Australian catamaran builder Incat Tasmania on the possibility of replacing the LNG powerplant with a battery-electric solution on its newbuilding ferry under construction at the yard.
Having an overall length of 130 metres, a width of 32 metres and the capacity to carry 2,100 passengers and 226 cars, it will be the largest aluminium catamaran ever built by Incat. The vessel was originally intended to be powered by LNG and Finnish technology group Wärtsilä was contracted in August 2022 to supply engines, waterjets, and fuel storage and supply system.
Incat Group Chairman and Founder Robert Clifford said “the customer wants this to happen, Incat wants this to happen, and whilst there are matters to be finalised, I am extremely confident that Incat can deliver this ground-breaking ship. In my experience unless we see something come in from the left field, this is a ‘done deal’. ”
The company said that whilst there were ‘challenges to overcome’, the ship which is to be delivered in 2025, when battery electric, would be the ‘world’s largest, lightweight, zero emissions ferry operating on any route in the world.’
“Obviously, there needs to be sufficient energy supply in the ports that the ship would visit but we understand that this is progressing positively. The batteries and electric motors are being worked through with our suppliers, to ensure they can deliver the technology required in the timeframe we need them. “Zero emissions shipping is the future and Incat based in Tasmania, one of the few places on the planet which has already delivered net zero, is now poised to revolutionise the world’s shipping fleet by delivering the world’s first zero emissions, lightweight ship,” Clifford added.
This was a unique opportunity for Incat, he continued.
“Whilst there are always challenges if you change any aspect of the design of a ship part way through build, in simple terms, this is just swapping one method of propulsion for another: it will however have significant environmental benefits, and open up a whole new market for these types of vessels,” he said.
Former Tasmanian Premier and Incat’s Strategic Adviser Peter Gutwein said “delivering the world’s first large battery electric ferry for Buquebus would lead to exponential growth in the international market for large lightweight electric ships. “
“The world wants large, lightweight zero-emission ships and we are already scaling up our workforce and production facility in readiness for what will be a significant expansion. “It will be a win-win for both the environment and for investment in long-term skilled jobs in Tasmania,” he said.