Spark of invention


The all-electric Fluggaboat is a first for the industry

Unst Inshore Services Ltd has built the first 100% electric workboat in the UK. The 7.5m Fluggaboat uses an Evoy 120hp continuous rated, electric outboard powered by a 63 kwh Lithium-Ion battery housed in the console. Charging is by an onboard charger, so it can be fully charged overnight or topped up during the day depending on the rate of use.

Cruise speed

The vessel’s top speed is 30 knots but the most economical speed is 24 knots, with a slower speed giving a slightly longer range. The touch screen dash panel gives a good indication of the battery’s state of charge and use; speed and available range are constantly updated and motor RPM and kw are also displayed. Different screens show the rate of charge etc. Below 20% the battery management system will go into a “get home” reduced power mode to enhance the range for the return trip to a charge point. “Range anxiety” is taken care of by the amount of information provided on the touch screen.

Unst exhibited the boat at the Aquaculture UK show last May and the amount of interest was impressive. Until it can gain full MCA approval, the company says, it is not possible to take any orders for the electric boats, but it adds: “We are confident we have all the bases covered now. By the time this is published we should have the coding to MCA Cat 5 or 6. The most difficult part of the whole process was the coding. We like to code the boats before delivery; this way, they are ready to operate on delivery and the customer knows the boat is an approved unit.”

The propulsion system is by Norwegian firm Evoy and is 120hp continuous rated. It has built-in charging for the liquid cooled 63KWH Lithium-Ion battery. The unit is monitored over the Internet for diagnosis and software updates via the touch screen.

Unst chose the Evoy system, with a liquid cooled battery and charger, as the best option for what was required. The company’s plan was to build and test so the range could be measured at different speeds, to be sure it will actually perform as specified.

Evoy outboard

Unst says: “We have found the boat has a best speed/range at around 24 knots, which was a nice surprise. To find we had achieved pretty much exactly what we planned was very satisfying.

“We have been asked whether we had any assistance to develop this project. Unfortunately, even though we asked for help none was forthcoming. We decided that it was worthwhile going ahead anyway and our intention was to produce a perfectly viable boat and not just a token effort of an electric boat.

“There are those who announce that they are in the process of building the first all-electric boat, but we have actually built it. Being the first was a big problem as a lot of the regulation was new and finding the correct way forward was troublesome. With a lot of help from Mecal and guidance from the MCA, the boat is now ready for delivery.”

Computer designed

The all-electric boat is now going to be deployed to a salmon farm in Shetland which will allow the company to monitor it and potentially find ways to improve it further.

Unst says: “It will be interesting to see what improvements we can find, and the guys are keen to get to grips with it.”


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