Plymouth businessman plans to run zero emission hydrogen-powered ferries between Bristol and Cardiff

The passenger ferries will be powered by hydrogen, which is seen as a green form of energy Credit: Patriot Yachts

Ambitious plans to run hydrogen-powered passenger ferries between Bristol and Cardiff have been announced. Plymouth yacht builder Connor Johnson says he is hopeful of getting permission to start trials of the zero emission ferries in the autumn.

Currently people crossing over to Wales drive over the river Severn or take the train under it but now the owner of Patriot Yachts has a new idea.

Businessman Connor Johnson believes green energy is the only way forward. Credit: ITV West Country

Connor Johnson says, "We've got two going through Bristol to Cardiff, obviously due to tidal connections etc. And we've also developed a larger wind turbine, solar panels with the hydrogen and that's a 507 passenger and that's going to be going from Ilfracombe to Cardiff and Newport."

The two passenger ferries for the Bristol route are being shipped in from Turkey, costing more than a million Euros. They will be converted to hold hydrogen tanks.

Hydrogen propulsion works by reacting the gas with oxygen in a fuel cell to run electric motors. It is seen as a green and efficient form of energy, which Mr Johnson says is key. He says, "It's not for our future. It's for our kids' future as well."

There are legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome to get this million-pound venture up and running. Business experts say it will need good access to both Bristol and Cardiff city centres to recoup a significant investment.

The ferries will have competition from car drivers and the train service. Credit: ITV West Country

Transport expert Professor Stuart Cole says, "It's going to be largely leisure, simply because there are only two sailings a day. He's in direct competition therefore for the business market for the motor car and with the train service. Great Western have a train every half an hour between the centre of both cities so that's the kind of competition that the company has to face up to but one presumes that, having invested this large sum of money, that they are fairly confident that that market will develop. It's probably a very attractive market for leisure customers."

If hydrogen-powered ferries aren't enough, Mr Johnson's company is also planning to get hydrogen-propelled aircraft "off the ground".