An Arran Workboats C-Ranger 900 operated by the Scottish Salmon Company, now called Bakkafrost Scotland.

Arran Workboats granted £163k to develop electric propulsion

Replacing petrol and diesel will save operators money on fuel costs and save time on fuelling, servicing, and maintenance, says company's director

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A project on the island of Arran to build and test two prototype electric workboats has secured up to £163,130 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Arran Workboats Limited (AWL) supplies petrol- and diesel-powered workboats to fish farmers including Mowi, Scottish Sea Farms, Bakkafrost (in Scotland and the Faroes), and Organic Sea Harvest, and to companies in other marine industries such as renewables, diving, port authorities, universities, and tourism.

The company now wants to develop electric versions of two of its three workboat models - the C-Defender and the larger C-Ranger - with a longer term intention to have the full range electrically propelled. HIE said there is already interest in the idea from companies in several marine sectors.

Safety standards

A key challenge is meeting the stringent safety standards set by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, particularly addressing concerns about fire risk.

AWL is to design and build two prototype electric versions of its twin propulsion workboats, for two of the boat lengths it currently produces. The prototypes will be used for test and demonstration purposes and to assess the potential for commercial production.

HIE said the company is determined to use Scotland-based supply chain companies as much as possible and is already working with another local company on energy requirement calculations.

Electric is the future

Calum Monteith, director at Arran Workboats Ltd, said the company was delighted to receive support from HIE.

“We firmly believe our electric propulsion proposition is the future and will help the fish farm companies and other industries reduce their emissions from fossil fuels and help deliver their net zero aspirations.

We have been encouraged greatly by the response from our existing customer base which bodes well for the future

Arran Workboats director
Calum Monteith

“There are many benefits from electric propulsion for the operators and will save them money on fuel costs and save time on fuelling, servicing, and maintenance. Operators will also reduce noise and pollution whilst at sea and eradicate the problems with storing fuel at their base.

Built from scratch

“Our HDPE (high density polyethylene) workboats that are built from scratch by our local workforce on Arran are well respected throughout the market and the business has been built over the years on recommendations. We customise our boats to suit each customer’s needs and this will take another step forward with our ability to meet the customer’s needs in relation to net zero/emissions targets.

“We have been researching the electric propulsion market for a couple of years and believe we can deliver a product that would suit our customer’s needs and we have been encouraged greatly by the response from our existing customer base which bodes well for the future.”

Sustaining jobs

Morag Goodfellow, HIE’s area manager for Argyll and the Islands, said: “There is a real drive for Scotland to set an example of how an economy can be decarbonised while maintaining secure well-paid jobs. This requires applied innovation to benefit from new economic opportunities.

“This project by Arran Workboats could help to reduce the carbon impacts, not only of the company itself but of wider marine industries. Successful certification of electric workboats will open up new opportunities for the company as their customers take their own steps towards net zero.

“At the same time, it will sustain vital manufacturing jobs on Arran, where most other employment is tourism based. All of this contributes to wider community and population resilience.”

Arran Workboats produces three models: the C-Defender, an open boat; C-Otter, which has a cabin option; and the C-Ranger, which has a larger cabin. The C-Defender comes in 6m and 7m length options and has a 2.5m beam. The C-Otter is 7.85m long and has a choice of a 2.7m or 3m beam. The C-Ranger comes in 8.45m and 9m lengths and has a 3m beam.

The C-Otter is the mid-sized boat in the company's product range. Arran Workboats intends to have electric versions of all three models, starting with prototypes of the C-Defender and C-Ranger.