New Zealand companies partner up on electric commuter ferry

New Zealand companies HamiltonJet and EV Maritime have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build advanced composite, battery-powered commuter ferries.

EV Maritime/HamiltonJet

The cooperation was formalised at HamiltonJet’s Christchurch headquarters in May, in the presence of Megan Woods, New Zealand’s Minister of Energy & Resources and Minister of Research Science & Innovation.

With the aim of decarbonising the harbour cities of the world, the parties are seeking to develop one of the world’s first truly high-speed, full-size, zero-emission fast ferries.

Image by EV Maritime/HamiltonJet

As explained, HamiltonJet will provide a high efficiency, high manoeuvrability drive solution for this all-electric vessel, incorporating elements of the company’s new Electro-Hybrid Drive solution, EHX.

HamiltonJet CEO Ben Reed said, for this project, waterjets bring efficiency, particularly over the whole operational profile. They also offer precise control during docking and the ability to upgrade to automated control technologies in the future.

“Our jets are already very popular in high-speed ferries around the world due to their efficiency and manoeuvrability. This project is a great opportunity, right on our doorstep, to demonstrate how we can tune these aspects for electric-only operation in a ferry with a clearly defined speed range,” Reed noted.

While the electric commuter ferry has been designed with the overhaul of Auckland’s ferry fleet in mind, the two Kiwi companies have much larger ambitions for the project.

“This is an opportunity for New Zealand to claim an important place in the global green transportation sector, with associated sustainable employment and significant long term export potential,” Michael Eaglen, EV Maritime CEO, pointed out.

He added that ferries are also “ideal applications” for electric technology.

“Ferries come and go from the same docks. It means charging infrastructure can be installed at those docks and scheduling can be managed to share charging opportunities around fleets.”

“There are plenty of harbour cities around the world with large commuter ferry fleets of 30 or more boats. The vessel we’ve designed is suitable for any of those major cities in terms of the size, speed and range required in most commuter ferry networks.”

According to Eaglen, electric power benefits not only the environment but also operators, passengers and the community. Electic ships are free of exhaust emissions and have near-silent operations while slashing operating costs compared with traditional diesel-powered ferries.

“Our analysis suggests there are very few inshore commuter ferry operations in the world today which need to use diesel. Quite simply, electric is better business already.”

“This design also has great potential in the tourism sector. While global tourism will potentially be a lot quieter in the next few years, the need to decarbonise is still very real,” Eaglen concluded.