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Fullers360 announces Auckland's first high speed plug-in electric hybrid ferry

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Today, Fullers360 announced it has reached a critical milestone in its decarbonisation journey with Auckland’s first electric hybrid fast ferry for the Hauraki Gulf ferry network. This first critical step in decarbonising Fullers360’s Auckland ferry fleet will reduce carbon emissions by 75,000kg per year on the Devonport route alone.

The new electric vessel with hybrid capabilities is anticipated to be completed in 2023. It will have capacity to transport approximately 300 passengers servicing the company’s Devonport route, with capacity to travel to other destinations as needed. Designed by industry leader Incat Crowther, the vessel is a modular metro-level with overflow to the upper deck optimised to be up to 100% electric on the Devonport route.

Fullers360’s CEO, Mike Horne, says the business recognises the compounding contribution traditional modes of transport, such as diesel vehicles, make to New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

"Our vision is to provide New Zealand with the opportunity to build and operate the world’s first large- scale fast ferry fleet, supported by a fleet of hydrogen-ready electric vessels. The move to green ferry technology is a significant milestone in realising our long-held vision and commitment to delivering sustainable marine transport for Auckland and other regions."

In a first for our country, the new electric hybrid vessel is being completely built in New Zealand by Q-West and is set to support 30 jobs to the Whanganui region where boat builders Q-West are based.

The vessel has been designed for safe, comfortable, and highly reliable commercial rapid transit ferry services. It will feature a world leading electric-hybrid propulsion control system from HamiltonJet, allowing it to operate at higher speeds, with enhanced manoeuvrability all while using less energy and delivering greater operational resilience.

In 2018, Fullers360 launched its Gulf2025 strategy that set out an ambition to grow a larger, more effective, and sustainable ferry network. The strategy provided the catalyst for research and development into electric ferries into which the company has invested over $1M in the design and feasibility of sustainable ferry technology. The research and design phase of the project has led to broad reaching cross sector collaboration, including with industry experts EV Maritime.

Horne says this once-in-a-generation transition to green ferry technology will have multiple environmental, social, and economic benefits, adding this pivotal new era for the marine industry proves low emission vessels is now a commercial reality.

"We are working and collaborating with passionate partners to combine ferry technology with environmental sustainability to reduce carbon emissions, provide world-class tourism and commuter services, and support the economic recovery for New Zealand."

Q-West CEO, Colin Mitchell, says the team is excited to be part a new era of marine transport and thrilled with the job opportunities it brings to the Whanganui region.

"We are proud to work with Fullers360 once again and to play a vital role in building New Zealand’s first electric hybrid ferry. Whanganui has been at the forefront of commercial aluminium boatbuilding for over sixty years, and it feels appropriate this electric hybrid ferry is built here."

Fullers360 has been working closely with Auckland Transport over the last 12 months on the alignment of vessel specifications across the whole of the Auckland ferry fleet and in identifying infrastructure requirements to bring this once in a lifetime technology shift to life for Auckland.

Gareth Willis, Auckland Transport Manager Ferry Services, says the introduction of an electric hybrid ferry aligns with Auckland Transport’s requirement to significantly reduce transport emissions across all public transport services.

"This is an exciting milestone for Auckland, joining a range of other leading initiatives in progress by Auckland Transport that include New Zealand’s first hydrogen bus trial and the recent placement of Australasia’s biggest electric bus order through contract with the operator NZ Bus and increases to the electric train fleet."

Incat Crowther’s Technical Manager, Dan Mace, says the electric ferry configuration was conceptualised specifically for the Auckland operation.

"We used vast network analysis experience from multiple global cities and applied this to realise the significant benefit of electric operation on the Devonport route, and the potential to bolster electric operation with hybrid power to extend the range for longer routes."

Fullers360 says this is the first step in a broader plan to replace its ageing diesel fleet with electric vessels - a vision that responds to the climate crisis, supports the Government’s climate reduction goals, and protects the environment the business operates within, and on, every day.

"We take our responsibility seriously to conserve and protect the Hauraki Gulf and the natural life that lives on and within it. Green ferry technology ensures we uphold that responsibility, while offering unique economic benefits in significantly reducing operating and maintenance costs compared that come with traditional diesel vessels," Horne said.

Fullers360’s electric hybrid fast ferry is due to begin construction in April 2022.

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