A “unique” combination of maritime history, geography and cutting edge technology is set to bring shipbuilding back to Belfast with world beating environmental credentials it has been claimed.
Artemis Technologies, a spin-off from America’s Cup sailing team is to establish a new facility in Belfast Harbour with an ambitious plan to create a hybrid wind and electric passenger ship capable of travelling at 30 knots (35mph) and using no fosssilfuel.
Creating 35 jobs initially, the new company is headed by double Olympic Gold medal winning yachtsman Iain Percy OBE and Northern Ireland born technologist Prof Mark Gillan.
Collaborating with the aerospace sector and otrher leading industries as wel as the universities and colleges, the men said they were setting out to build a global hub to lead the way in the decarbonisation of the marine industry.
Their project, the Autonomous Sailing Vessel (ASV), will be a zero-emissions 45 metre catamaran, that will require no fossil fuels, offer unlimited range, and has the potential to travel at 50 knots, with a cruising speed of 30 knots in any condition.
“We aim to lead in the decarbonisation of the maritime industry by building on our America’s Cup heritage and expertise in hydrofoils, wing sails and control systems to develop and manufacture green-powered commercial vessels, helping to ensure a sustainable maritime future,” said Artemis CEO Mr Percy.
“The ASV has a variety of applications including City to City passenger transportation and will be the first in a series of commercial maritime products developed by Artemis Technologies in Belfast using the wind and innovative energy recovery systems.
“Through collaboration, research and innovation we plan to utilise Belfast’s rich maritime history and the region’s world-class expertise in aerospace and composite engineering to create the UK’s most advanced maritime manufacturing facility.
“The Artemis Technologies’ team already consists of experts from the fields of motor sport, aerospace, yacht design, simulation, electronics and aerodynamics. We plan to share our expertise with Northern Ireland and work in collaboration with stakeholders to grow this sector by delivering innovative yet sustainable maritime products.
Speaking at the launch event at Belfast Harbour offices, attended by Secretary of State Karen Bradley and DUP leader Arlene Foster, Mr Percy said the technology now available could be used to tackle one of the greatest polluters, the maritime industry which around the world, he said, created as much pollution as a developed country such as Germany.
Under a new international agreement, issued by the International Maritime Organisation, the industry has committed to cutting emissions by at least half by 2050.
“We believe, given our expertise and the strength of the skills base here in Northern Ireland, that we can position the region at the forefront of helping deliver these targets, by developing new green innovations to assist in the decarbonisation of maritime,” Mr Percy added.
Already the company has received the backing and collaborative support from stakeholders including Belfast City Council, Belfast Harbour, Stena Line, Bombardier, Harland and Wolff, Queen’s University, Ulster University, Belfast Met, NIACE, Creative Composites and Catalyst Inc.
Belfast Harbour CEO Joe O’Neill praised the project as the beginning of a new chapter in the city’s history.
“Artemis represents another diverse addition to the 700-plus firms already within the Harbour Estate. This growing community offers high-calibre employment and opportunities which are critical for the economic wellbeing of both Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole.”