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The idea is that the hydrogen ferry would be designed to travel between Kirkwall, pictured above, and Shapinsay.
Donna_Carpenter | iStock | Getty Images

Plans to build a sea-going ferry powered using hydrogen-fuel cells advanced on Friday after it was announced that a commercial contract for the development of a concept design had been awarded.

Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, which is owned by the Scottish government, said in a statement that the contract had been given to the London-headquartered Aqualisbraemar LOC Group.

The two parties will collaborate on the concept, which CMAL said would be based around the needs of a “double-ended sea-going passenger and car ferry, with capacity for 120 passengers and 16 cars or two trucks.”

The idea is that the ferry would be designed to travel between Kirkwall and Shapinsay in Orkney, an archipelago located north of mainland Scotland.

It represents the latest development for the HySeas III project, which has received funding from the European Union.

The goal of Hyseas III is to show that fuel cells can be integrated into a “marine hybrid electric drive system” consisting of tech such as batteries and electric propulsion.

To this end, the project aims to develop, build, test and validate “a full sized drive train on land.” Alongside CMAL, other partners in the consortium include the University of St. Andrews, Orkney Island Council and Kongsberg Maritime.

John Salton, fleet manager and projects director at CMAL, said the contract award constitutes “a significant step forward in establishing a new, innovative vessel concept, and marks an important shift towards entirely emissions-free marine transport.”

“If successful, the next step will be to take the knowledge and know-how into building a ferry,” Salton said.

Other hydrogen ships have already been developed and put into use. Back in 2008, for example, a fuel cell ship capable of carrying passengers entered into service on a lake in Hamburg, Germany.

In March of this year Linde, a firm specializing in engineering and industrial gases, said it had been chosen by Norwegian firm Norled to provide liquid hydrogen and associated infrastructure for a hydrogen-powered ferry. The MF Hydra, as it’s known, will be able to carry both passengers and cars.

In a statement at the time Norled’s CEO, Heidi Wolden, said the firm believed hydrogen would “play a significant role in the future of zero-emission ships.”

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier,” hydrogen has a diverse range of applications and can be deployed in sectors such as industry and transport.

Ferries are not the only mode of transportation where hydrogen fuel cells could have a role to play.

Hydrogen buses have been used in cities such as London and Aberdeen, for example, while hydrogen fuel cell airplanes have also taken flight in recent years.

Major automobile manufacturers that have dipped into the hydrogen fuel cell market include Toyota and Honda, while smaller firms such as Riversimple are also working on hydrogen powered cars.

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California-based startup unveils 58 MPH electric jet ski on hydrofoils

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California-based startup unveils 58 MPH electric jet ski on hydrofoils

It’s an exciting time for personal watercraft enthusiasts that want to swap a roaring engine for the instantaneous (and silent) power of electric motors. The latest electric jet ski making a splash is the Valo Hyperfoil.

Technically speaking, it’s not actually a jet ski, nor is it making that much of a splash. “Jet Ski” is a brand name owned by Kawasaki, and the Valo Hyperfoil isn’t really making a splash because it’s actually flying above the waves on hydrofoils.

But whatever you call it and whichever hydro-based pun you shoehorn into an electric watercraft article, the Valo Hyperfoil is certainly an impressive machine.

Unveiled today by California-based startup Boundary Layer Technologies, the Valo Hyperfoil is one of the most advanced personal electric watercraft we’ve ever seen.

Not only is it quite powerful, packing in a 108 hp (80 kW) motor, but it can reach a maximum speed of 50 knots (58 mph or 93 km/h).

And it will do so while flying a full 2 feet (60 cm) above the surface of the water.

As founder and CEO of Boundary Layer Technologies Ed Kearny explained in a statement provided to Electrek:

“Valo will be a complete revolution to personal watercraft. The first Jetski was on the market 50 years ago this year, and it’s time for a major upgrade. Valo will be fast, agile, and tremendously exhilarating, all while being near silent and leaving zero wake. It will be like flying a stunt plane but on water. We see this a completely new form of water based mobility”

The secret to the flying nature of the Valo is its hydrofoils, which function like a set of airplane wings under water.

They lift the watercraft out of the dense water, helping it to save energy by flying through the air. That makes the ride smoother, faster and more efficient. It also means that the Valo can get by with fewer of those heavy and expensive batteries.

The company has spent the last four years developing hydrofoil technology for commercial purposes, such as passenger ferries and container ships. Now the company is hoping to apply that technology to the recreational market with a personal electric watercraft.

As Kearny continued:

“We are passionate about bringing foiling technology and its huge benefits to ships big and small. We simply shifted from ‘big first’, to ‘fast first’.  What we love about Valo is how fast we can get to market. We are bringing all the technology we were developing for massive container ships and ferries and using it to deliver one hell of a recreational product.”

Hydrofoiling boats have been made famous by the Swedish company Candela, who is already building and delivering electric speedboats with impressive hydrofoiling performance. The company is also working on passenger ferries and water taxis for commercial use, but hasn’t shown off a personal electric watercraft like the Valo.

Other companies like Taiga have leveraged their electric snowmobile technology to demonstrate personal electric watercraft. But their planing hulls will have a hard time matching the efficiency of hydrofoils like those displayed on the Valo.

Boundary Layer Technologies expects to have a small number of limited edition Founders Edition Valos by the summer of 2023 Full production vehicles aren’t expected to hit the water before 2024. The anticipated price for the production vehicles is $59,000, though we don’t yet know what price tag those first run Founders Edition vehicles will carry.

Until then, we can at least look at these pretty renders.

valo jet skit

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Quick Charge Podcast: November 30, 2022

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Quick Charge Podcast: November 30, 2022

Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from Electrek. Quick Charge is available now on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn and our RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

New episodes of Quick Charge are recorded Monday through Thursday and again on Saturday. Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast player to guarantee new episodes are delivered as soon as they’re available.

Stories we discuss in this episode (with links):

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Hitachi Energy debuts wireless grid tech that prevents wildfires

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Hitachi Energy debuts wireless grid tech that prevents wildfires

Hitachi Energy just launched wireless Spark Prevention Unit indicators that help prevent wildfires by enabling remote monitoring.

According to the US Department of Energy, approximately 10% of wildfire ignitions are sparked by faults on electrical infrastructure or electric equipment failure. Hitachi Energy’s new Wireless SPU Indicators allow utilities to monitor the grid remotely, in real time, with automated visual inspection rounds.

The SPU monitors the current and thermal load of surge arresters – which protect equipment from surges in the power system – installed in wildfire risk areas.

If there’s a thermal overload in the grid, the SPU interrupts the current flow and disconnects the surge arrester, thus preventing any arcing – which is when a circuit becomes overloaded and overheats – sparking, or ejection of hot particles that could potentially start a wildfire.

Hitachi Energy’s new Wireless SPU Indicator

A visual indicator on the SPU lets the utility field crew know that it needs to be replaced. Hundreds of thousands of SPUs installed in some of the world’s most wildfire-prone areas, such as in the United States and Australia, have had a real impact in preventing wildfires. Being able to monitor them remotely is only going to improve wildfire prevention.

Read more: How the US can achieve resilient power grids and support EV deployment

Photo: Pok Rie on Pexels.com


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Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at michelle@9to5mac.com. Check out her personal blog.


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