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Supply chain R&D project aims to revolutionise zero-emissions shipbuilding

1st December 2022
Kiera Sowery

Marine engineers, Ecomar Propulsion, and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), operated by the University of Strathclyde, have kicked off an ambitious research and development (R&D) project aimed at bringing the manufacture of key parts used in zero-emissions electric boats to the UK.

Funded by the Scottish Inward Investment Catalyst Fund, the project seeks to bring production to Scotland to overcome a global supply chain shortage of electric outboard motors, which are currently made in Japan.

Ecomar Propulsion will tap into the knowledge of experts from NMIS and the Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing (FEMM) Hub, which is leading research in electrical machines and manufacturing to put the UK at the forefront of green energy.

Eugene Bari, CEO of Ecomar Propulsion, said: “We’re looking to establish a Scottish manufacturing base and revolutionise shipbuilding across the UK as we edge towards a decarbonised marine sector.

“The UK shipping industry has historically been seen as a polluter but there is a real potential for clean boats in Scotland. Alongside the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, and with support from Scottish Enterprise and the University of Strathclyde, we’re benefiting from a rich network of connections and tremendous expertise and academic knowledge.

“For the next generation of outboard motor, we need to establish a new, shorter supply chain and refine product development with sustainability at the forefront from the outset.”

NMIS is part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult and provides access to industry leading expertise and resources that help de-risk innovation, turn ideas into a reality and solve real world manufacturing and engineering challenges. It has recently announced two other high-profile R&D projects aimed at revolutionising UK ship building in collaboration with industry partners including BAE Systems and Malin Marine Consultants.

Ecomar Propulsion research, develop and produce high performance electric and hybrid hydrogen marine propulsion systems and have set an ambitious goal to reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tonnes within 10 years.

Gladys Benghalia Head of Electrification Manufacturing Programmes at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said: “Our goal at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland is to transform manufacturing in Scotland and the wider UK, helping to increase productivity, stimulate local investment, create jobs and strengthen supply chain links.

“Using our expertise and knowledge of electrification we’ll support this project by identifying a clean and efficient supply chain for electric outboard motors. This means we will look to source the materials and produce the final product in Scotland, reducing our reliance on importing and opening up opportunities for new jobs within the sector.

“Scotland has a legacy for shipbuilding and together with manufacturers large and small, we can establish a more vibrant future for manufacturing and marine technology.”

Enterprise Minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland has a rich shipbuilding heritage with the skills, technology and expertise to play a leading role in the decarbonisation of the marine sector going forward.

“Through investments in NMIS and the Inward Investment Catalyst Fund, which supports businesses and companies to invest in Scotland by establishing partnerships with Scottish academia on R&D projects, we are creating the conditions to support the transformation of Scottish manufacturing through de-risking innovation, attracting investment, creating jobs and supporting a cleaner, greener future.”

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