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ZEVI: Battery electric vessels and charging infrastructure

Automotive & Transport
Project Size:
share of up to £77 million

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Department for Transport (DfT) to invest up to £77 million in innovation projects. These projects will develop, deploy and operate clean maritime solutions for 3 years in a real world environment.

The Zero emission vessel and infrastructure (ZEVI) competition is part of a suite of interventions being launched by the UK Shipping Office for Reducing Emissions (UK SHORE), part of DfT. They aim to transform the UK into a global leader in the design and manufacturing of clean maritime technologies.

The aim of this competition is to fund:

  • 100% battery electric vessels
  • alternative fuel vessels
  • vessel energy efficiency technology, such as wind assistance
  • vessel charging infrastructure
  • shore power and corresponding vessel technology
  • alternative fuel refuelling infrastructure for vessels

Alternative fuel electric hybrid vessels are within scope. “Alternative fuels” in this competition refers to fossil fuel alternatives such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol.

Your proposal must build, deploy and operate novel clean maritime technologies focussed on on-vessel technologies and related shoreside infrastructure including at ports, harbours and offshore.

The Zero emission vessel and infrastructure competition is funding multi year demonstrations across 3 strands:

  • Strand 1: Battery electric vessels and charging infrastructure (this strand)
  • Strand 2: Shore power technologies, shore-side and vessel-side
  • Strand 3: Alternative fuel vessels and refuelling infrastructure

Your demonstration must include the zero emission vessel and infrastructure being used in a representative real world operational environment for a period of 3 years.

It is your responsibility to ensure you submit your application to the correct strand for your project. You will not be able to transfer your application and it will not be sent for assessment if it is out of scope.

If you make an error in your application that makes it ineligible for funding it will not be sent for assessment.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.


Your project

Your project must:

  • have total costs of between £3 million and £40 million unless agreed with Innovate UK (see below)
  • not exceed a grant request of £20 million
  • start by 1 October 2023
  • claim all grant funding by 31 March 2025
  • complete a 3 year demonstration of all funded vessels and supporting infrastructure
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

The funding period for your project can last for a maximum of 20 months, the project funding period.

You must complete your funded project and 3 year demonstration of all vessels, with corresponding infrastructure, no later than 31 March 2028.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size,
  • be a ship owner or manufacturer or operator (ship as defined in the Merchant Shipping Act (MSA) 1995 Section 313(1)), or an infrastructure owner or operator, such as a port or windfarm
  • collaborate with a UK registered infrastructure owner or operator if you are a ship owner, manufacturer or operator
  • collaborate with a UK registered ship owner, manufacturer or operator if you are an infrastructure owner or operator

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

Non-UK business can apply to this competition in reference to activities they are planning to undertake in the UK. The business must be registered in the UK before any funding can be awarded and all work must be undertaken in the UK.

Trust ports and Municipal ports will be treated as businesses.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

Number of applications

There is no limit to how many applications an organisation can submit in this competition, either as a lead or partner.

If you are involved in more than one application, you must clearly state how all projects can be resourced and delivered if successful. You may be asked for further evidence of your resources at interview if invited.

If Innovate UK have concerns about your ability to deliver multiple projects successfully, we reserve the right to award funding based on evidence of capacity to manage them.

If you are involved in other Innovate UK funded projects, you must show you have the resources in place to deliver further projects funded by this ZEVI competition.

Innovate UK reserve the right to decide the success of an application based on evidence of capacity to manage multiple live projects. If you are delivering live Innovate UK projects, we will review your current delivery and performance towards expected stated deliverables.

The aim of this competition is to fund:

  • 100% battery electric vessels
  • alternative fuel vessels
  • vessel energy efficiency technology, such as wind assistance
  • vessel charging infrastructure
  • shore power and corresponding vessel technology
  • alternative fuel refuelling infrastructure for vessels

Your project must focus on 100% battery electric vessels and their corresponding infrastructure. The infrastructure must be able to charge the vessels for the requirements of their operational activities.

Your project can include multiple vessels and infrastructure locations and demonstrate a wide range of operational profiles. A project with a single vessel and single infrastructure location will be in scope if this is appropriate for the operational activities of that vessel.

Your project will be funded from the agreed start date up until 31 March 2025, for costs associated with:

  • project delivery
  • vessel development
  • infrastructure development

You must demonstrate all funded vessels and infrastructure for 3 years, at your own cost, ending 31 March 2028.

You must engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) during the project. The MCA may also contact successful projects to discuss the details of your project. Failure to engage with the MCA when requested could result in your project being suspended or funding withdrawn.

Your proposal must:

  • define the 3 year deployment and demonstration that you plan to conduct, including all associated costs and the range of operational use cases
  • focus on maritime and the development of a sustainable and scalable approach to zero emission vessels and infrastructure
  • present a well-rounded and industrially driven consortium capable of rapid deployment
  • evidence that you can acquire or build vessels and supply the infrastructure needed to carry out a successful demonstration in the required timeframe
  • define a long term strategy to decarbonise this sector, with a viable commercialisation route to expanding nationally and internationally

Technologies for all sizes and categories of maritime vessel subject to the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 are in scope. Solutions and demonstrations can be suitable for one target size of vessel or multiple types. Pleasure and commercial vessels are in scope.

The vessel must be a United Kingdom ship, as defined in 85(2) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, or you must provide clear justification for use of a non-United Kingdom ship in your application.

All ports and harbours are in scope, including infrastructure for freight, passenger, pleasure and commercial vessels. Offshore infrastructure is also in scope, such as wind farms.

We encourage projects from around the UK:

  • to support boosting jobs and economic growth
  • including ports, vessel operators, vessel manufacturers and their supply chain

We welcome projects from areas with existing clean maritime expertise or co-located in clusters of renewable energy production and usage including hydrogen.

You must clearly demonstrate how you will anchor Intellectual Property (IP) generated by the project in the UK and how it will be exploited for the benefit of the UK supply chain in the future.

The 3 year demonstration period should take place in UK waters wherever possible. International vessel operations with a UK registered vessel are only acceptable where fully justified and the benefit to the UK clearly explained. We will not fund international infrastructure or operations originating outside the UK.

Your project must:

  • demonstrate operational utilisations of vessels and infrastructure
  • operate zero emission vessels in various types of locations and sea states, whilst performing a range of duty cycles to reflect the variety in vessel operations
  • ensure all vessels and infrastructure funded in your project are in operation by 31 March 2025, vessels can be deployed earlier or in stages if desired
  • ensure adequate training is provided for all those using the vessels or infrastructure
  • ensure there are appropriate repair and maintenance provisions for your vessels and infrastructure during the 3 year demonstration period
  • share your project’s learning before, during and after your demonstration, both independently and by supporting activities organised by the funders or their agents
  • collaborate fully with organisations responsible for regulation, safety and incident response to conduct a safe demonstration
  • maximise UK value in terms of supply chain and deployment

Vessel specific requirements for Strand 1

You must:

  • focus on use of vessel technology that can be scaled
  • only use fully battery electric vessels
  • ensure any ancillary equipment and auxiliary power provision is zero emission in use, including deck machinery such as cranes
  • ensure demonstrated vessels meet all safety, regulatory and legal requirements

For projects also developing vessel energy efficiency technologies, you must focus on technologies that significantly increase the range and endurance of the vessel. You can also focus on technologies that are critical to lowering fuel usage to reach commercial viability, including wind propulsion.

Infrastructure specific requirements for Strand 1

You must:

  • ensure all proposed infrastructure funded through the programme is, accessible to other operators outside the consortia by appointment and at a suitable market rate
  • ensure infrastructure is located to enable a variety of operations, potentially including offshore charging
  • utilise a proportion of infrastructure, capable of charging multiple vessels rapidly and back-to-back
  • meet all safety, regulatory and legal requirements
  • align with current and emerging international standards
  • describe any decommissioning that is required at the conclusion of the demonstration, infrastructure which can viably be repurposed does not require decommissioning

Projects can use existing or planned infrastructure where it is compatible with their demonstration.

Successful projects will be required to engage with the Department for Transport (DfT), Innovate UK and any third party contractors appointed by them related to zero emissions vessels and infrastructure (ZEVI) projects.

Portfolio approach
We want to fund a variety of projects across the three competition strands, different technologies, markets, technological maturities UK geographic locations and research categories. We call this a portfolio approach.

Innovate UK and DfT reserves the right to prioritise projects within specific themes where necessary. We reserve the right to adjust the distribution of funding across the three Zero emission vessel and infrastructure strands.

Specific themes

Your project can focus on one or more of the following:

  • domestic green corridors
  • ferry services, including between islands and on inland waterways

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