Scottish Government has granted funding for a feasibility study into developing a hydrogen-powered ferry service to some of the country’s remotest island communities.

The feasibility project will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power, the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers, and how the design of the ship and its engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.

Scotland awarded the funding through its Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and will be used for an initial feasibility study, to be completed by June 2018, to look at the technical and commercial requirements for a west coast hydrogen ferry.

If the vision is feasible and practical, the parties involved in the project would move onto the development phase with a view to having a ferry operational in the early 2020s.

The funding was granted to a team comprising the Point and Sandwick Trust, the UK’s largest community energy company, which is leading the project, as well as six private sector companies and a public sector maritime asset company.

These include CMAL, who own the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries, Ferguson Marine shipyard in Glasgow, Siemens-Gamesa Renewable Energy, ITM Power, gas transport and storage specialist ENGIE, Wood, and Johnston Carmichael.

“We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology,” Calum MacDonald, Development Director for Point and Sandwick Trust and the former MP for the Western Isles, said.

“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology,” MacDonald added.