Vessels are expected to operate in electric mode within central London, helping to curb air pollution and emissions in the process

Two hybrid ferries are set join the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers’ fleet, with the first vessels arriving this autumn, providing a boost to London’s efforts to become a zero-carbon city by 2030.

The Uber Boat fleet currently has 20 vessels in operation and transports passengers between stops from Putney to Woolwich. The new hybrid ferries promise to not only reduce overall emissions, but will also curb air pollution by switching to run on zero-emission electric propulsion when in central London, switching to biofuel power only once outside the central zone.

Danfoss Power Solutions’ Editron division, which has developed the high-speed 40-metre-long passenger ferries, says each vessel will be capable of transporting up to 230 people, making them the largest vessels to operate under the Uber Boat banner. They will be built by Wight Shipyard Co on the Isle of Wight.

As well as reducing environmental impact, the ferries will also provide enhanced comfort for passengers due to the lower noise and vibration levels generated by Danfoss’ hybrid-electric propulsion system, Danfoss Power Solutions said. 

Erno Tenhunen, Danfoss’ Editron division’s Marine director, said: “Cities and countries are increasingly turning to electrification solutions for their near-coastal vessels, not only to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to increase operational efficiency. The global potential for this electric conversion is also supported by technological innovations and a steady decrease in battery prices, enabling projects to achieve attractive payback times for ferry owners.”

Any excess power from the biofuel engines will be used to feed the onboard AC supply and charge the batteries, removing the need for separate diesel-driven auxiliary generator sets to deliver the onboard AC supply, the companu said.

Tenhunen added that the hybrid power system would give operators a range of sustainable options for fuelling the vessels. “Regardless of the onboard energy storage, whether batteries, hydrogen fuel cells or other technologies, we have the solution for integrating it into our DC system and converting the energy into the electric propulsion machines,” he said. “We’re looking forward to continuing our work with Wight Shipyard Co and SEC Marine to help cities decarbonise.”

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