World first electric ferry with charging buoy a step closer to serving Falmouth and St Mawes

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

A project to develop the world's first electric ferry, which charges by being plugged into a floating buoy, is being developed by a team in Falmouth.

Marine Zero Ltd has been awarded more than £3million of funding from the Department for Transport to make a prototype replacment for St Mawes ferry.

The route already hosts a million passengers a year across the 2.8mile stretch of the River Fal.

Toby Floyer, MD of FalRiver Cornwall, says they have to future proof themselves to be netzero by their 2050 target. Credit: ITV News

Toby Floyer from FalRiver says if it goes ahead this will be "huge".

"A car lasts maybe ten years, a boat [will last] fifty, so we have to design our boats now to get us through to 2050."

Toby says they're confident the planned prototype would not give them any "range anxiety" as it's predicted to give enough charge to run all day.

The MorVoRen project, named after the Cornish word for mermaid, is estimated to cost £4.2million pounds in total, with local businesses needing to finance the rest.

Led by green engineering design team Marine Zero, the partnership includes businesses such as FalRiver Ferries, Falmouth Harbour, Pelagic Design, Solis Marine Engineering and academics from the University of Plymouth.

The service is relied on by many people working in St Mawes such as the village dentist. Credit: ITV News

Oliver Short is the Naval Architect designing the charging buoy. He says unlike shoreside charging points which already exist a floating charging point will be much more useful.

"The buoy would be installed very similarly to how all the existing moorings are. The only difference will be there'll be a cable that's run from shore up to it, which then the vessel can charge into and power that while it sits on the mouring, during the day or during the night."

Managing Director of St Mawes Pier & Harbour Co, Gary Cairns says the ferry service is an "essential" asset to the village, citing the "dentist and the chemist" being some of key people taking the ferry most days.

He says future changes to vessel regulations means that the current ferry type "wouldn't be allowed to run in the winter months".

"So a new vessel is going to bring those modern standards as well as the environmental ambitions that we all have nowadays."

Andy Hurley, the operations director for Marine Zero explains the project needs to go through cost analysis and due diligence checks before it officially begins

"Clearly, this is a massive project for the local partners who are all small businesses. So actually what we now need to do is to make sure this is a financially viable project for them and also make sure that it's something that will really work at the end of those two years."

If all the funding is approved by April 1, a two-year deadline would be set to see a prototype electric Domestic Passenger Vessel (DPV) and powered mooring buoy (PMB) in action by April 2025.

If successful, Marine Zero say this would put Falmouth on the international map for innovative technologies and clean maritime advancements as well as a significant reduction of CO2 emissions and other pollutants which affect the local area.