Zero-emission hydrofoil ferry coming to Lake Manapōuri

by Kim Bowden - Mar 14, 2024

A New Zealand power company is bringing the world’s first electric hydro-foiling ferry to Lake Manapōuri.

Meridian Energy has announced it is purchasing a Swedish-designed Candela P-12 to be put to work on the southern lake.

It will provide daily transport for staff and contractors servicing the Manapōuri hydro power station, replacing a diesel ferry.

In a statement this morning the Meridian Energy says the high-tech upgrade will save 240 tons of carbon emissions each year – equivalent to taking 52 petrol cars off the road.

Meridian Energy's general manager of generation Tania Palmer says the company has a goal of halving its emissions by 2030, and this is just one move that will contribute to it.

“We have to be bold and innovative to reduce emissions. This deal is the result of a global search to identify the latest and best technology for our needs, and one that’s suitable for such an incredible natural environment," Ms Palmer says.

“The Candela P-12 is an exciting replacement for the diesel ferry we currently use to transport people across the lake to the power station. It’ll drastically reduce emissions and, at the same time, give our team what’s arguably the best and most spectacular commute in the world.”

Meridian Energy has signed a deal with the Swedish company to provide the P-12 and will be the first customer outside Europe to take delivery of the electric shuttle.

A bit like more recent America's Cup boats, the secret to its success lies in underwater wings that enable it to fly above the surface of the water.

Meridian Energy says these hydrofoils are computer guided and allow the hull to rise above the water at high speed, reducing friction and drag by around 80 percent when compared to traditional vessels, and allowing for long range and high-speed travel using battery power only.

It reckons the set-up makes for less impact on the immediate environment too.

At a cruise speed of 25 knots, the wake behind the vessel is less than 15 centimetres high, which Meridian Energy says will minimise disruption to the shoreline of Lake Manapōuri, and that is important because it sits within a UNESCO World Heritage Area, where there are native species like long fin eel living. 

The Candela P-12 is expected to begin operating on Lake Manapōuri in 2025.


Main image (Supplied): What the Candela P-12 will look like in action on Lake Manapōuri.

Read more: New Zealand's first electric hydrofoil now operating in Wānaka

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