Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited successfully led a European consortium bid that has been awarded â‚¬9.3m (Â£8.19m) to support the construction and launch of a sea-going car and passenger ferry fuelled by hydrogen.
The pioneering development, named HySeas III, is expected to cost around â‚¬12.6m (Â£11.1m) and will be jointly led by Ferguson Marine and the University of St Andrews.
Chief naval architect Chris Dunn of Ferguson Marine said: “Over recent years Ferguson Marine has been at the global forefront of green marine propulsion technology development. This exciting project is yet another positive step on that journey and puts us firmly on track to deliver the world’s first zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell powered commercial ROPAX ferry in 2020.”
The project's initial objective is to construct and test parts of the vessel for stress and durability in real-world conditions. If these tests are successful, the ferry will be constructed with plans to operate in and around Orkney, where hydrogen energy is already produced.
Ferguson Marine chief executive, Gerry Marshall, said: “We now have one of the most innovative and competitive shipyards in Europe which is capable of delivering groundbreaking projects for Inverclyde, Scotland and beyond.
"HySeas III is a living example of how it can be possible to lead the world in marine technology.”
Transport minister Humza Yousaf has expressed his support for the project, saying: “I’m delighted to see Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd play their part in winning this landmark bid.
“It’s exciting to see the shipyard getting involved in such an innovative project, joining forces with other public and private sector partners from across Europe to take forward the plans for the world’s first vehicle and passenger hydrogen ferry."
In 2012, Ferguson Marine successfully completed another innovative development by launching the world's first battery hybrid ferry, MV Hallaig.
The HySeas III project will formally begin on July 1.