New green project aims to boost zero-emission shipbuilding in Scotland

Marine engineers Ecomar Propulsion, and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), operated by the University of Strathclyde, have kicked off a research and development (R&D) project aimed at bringing the manufacture of key parts used in zero-emissions electric boats to the UK.

Funded by the Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund, the project seeks to bring production to Scotland to overcome a global supply chain shortage of electric outboard motors, which are currently made in Japan.

Ecomar Propulsion works on the research, development and production of high-performance electric and hybrid hydrogen marine propulsion systems and has set an ambitious goal to reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tonnes within 10 years.

“We’re looking to establish a Scottish manufacturing base and revolutionise shipbuilding across the UK as we edge towards a decarbonised marine sector,” Eugene Bari, CEO of Ecomar Propulsion, said.

“The UK shipping industry has historically been seen as a polluter but there is a real potential for clean boats in Scotland. Alongside the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, and with support from Scottish Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde, we’re benefiting from a rich network of connections and tremendous expertise and academic knowledge.”

“For the next generation of outboard motor, we need to establish a new, shorter supply chain and refine product development with sustainability at the forefront from the outset.”

Gladys Benghalia, Head of Electrification Manufacturing Programmes at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, added that Scotland has a legacy for shipbuilding and together with manufacturers large and small, work can be done to boost the industry.

“Using our expertise and knowledge of electrification we’ll support this project by identifying a clean and efficient supply chain for electric outboard motors. This means we will look to source the materials and produce the final product in Scotland, reducing our reliance on importing and opening up opportunities for new jobs within the sector,” Benghalia further noted.

Enterprise Minister Ivan McKee stated: “Scotland has a rich shipbuilding heritage with the skills, technology and expertise to play a leading role in the decarbonisation of the marine sector going forward.”

“Through investments in NMIS and the Inward Investment Catalyst Fund, which supports businesses and companies to invest in Scotland by establishing partnerships with Scottish academia on R&D projects, we are creating the conditions to support the transformation of Scottish manufacturing through de-risking innovation, attracting investment, creating jobs and supporting a cleaner, greener future,” he concluded.