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Serco selected as operational partner for innovative £8m marine hybrid power demonstration

Published: 19 Jan 2024

Serco is pleased to announce that it has been chosen to be an operational partner in the innovative £8m Clean Hybrid Alternative Marine Propulsion 2 (CHAMP2) project.   

Led by PurpleSector, the project is part of the third round of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC) and aims to understand whether the type of operational work undertaken for the Royal Navy and delivered by Serco operated vessels, could be replicated by vessels that use alternative propulsion systems such as electric motors or methanol fuel. 

Serco will play the role of operator during the trials that are required as part of the project’s demonstration phase.   This is expected to include PurpleSector’s demonstration vessel – MV Shockwave – replicating the work requirements of the Serco vessels to prove that a hybrid propulsion system can in fact meet the operational requirements of maritime operators.  

MV Shockwave is the hybrid vessel that PurpleSector created during the first round of the CMDC and can run on diesel, methanol, electric, or a combination of these fuels. During this project, MV Shockwave will replicate or ‘mimic’ the work cycle of one (or more) of the vessels Serco operates, which currently use diesel.  The aim is to prove that alternative ‘fuels of the future’ can already be utilised by operators to fulfil the requirements of their customers in real world settings. 

Theodore Abbott, PurpleSector’s Technical Project Lead for CHAMP2, stated: “Serco is a key partner for the CHAMP2 project.  They have provided technical and operational data to enable development of next generation sustainable marine powertrains. This forward-looking work demonstrates Serco's commitment to sustainable technology and a collaborative approach to marine industry decarbonisation”.

Commenting on the project, Doug Umbers Managing Director of Serco’s UK Defence business, said: “Serco is delighted to support this important work that will help reduce the carbon emissions of maritime operators. We have been supporting the Royal Navy for over 25 years and we will be able to provide our unique maritime engineering expertise, delivering access to technical, engineering, and performance data from the vessels that we operate as well as providing a realistic operational simulation.”    

The CHAMP2 project is part of the third round of the CMDC, which was announced in September 2022, funded by the Department for Transport, and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK. As part of this round of the CMDC, the Department allocated £60m to 19 flagship projects supported by 92 UK organisations to deliver real world demonstration R&D projects in clean maritime solutions. Projects will take place in multiple locations around the UK from as far north as the Shetland Isles and as far south as Cornwall.

This innovative £8m project will run until March 2025, and its consortium is made up of a wealth of expertise from within the maritime industry.  Other key partners include the RNLI, Cowes Harbour Commission, Princess Yachts, Solis Marine, South Devon College, The University of Bath and the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS).   These partners have come together with the shared ambition to drive the changes required to support the maritime sector to decarbonise and reach the Net Zero Targets of the UK Government. 

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