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Brittany Ferries explore 'flying ferries' concept.....


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There would have to be new port infrastructures built, how and where would people board at both ports.  In the case of Cherbourg where would be suitable to put some kind of pontoon.  Foot passengers would have to go through the customs at the terminal anyway, how?

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I was Being facetious with my last post; but honestly the Channel is not smooth, anything but for much of the year, and I think that this would be exposed to the same perils as flying boats i.e. they needed a chop to get them unstuck from the water but were very susceptible to damage from rogue waves, flotsam etc. Imagine what would happen if one of these caught a submerged shipping container?????

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2 hours ago, Nick Hyde said:

Surely though if this concept proves commercially feasible, logic would suggest much bigger car carrying craft would be on the horizon? After all this was the aim before with earlier concepts and route proposals.

The version of GEV BF have gone for is all electric which has major limitations at the moment due to batteries. As @jonno says If they crack practical lithium sulphur batteries (lighterweight, more energy dense and could be cheaper than Li-ion)  or another more energy dense battery chemistry, it could open the craft up to bigger versions, but then there is the rest of the vehicle to develop and build so not going to be a quick process.

Scaling up also leads to more practical issues.  The largest GEV Boeing was developing for the military and theoretically could carry more than 300 cars, had a wingspan of 500 feet / 152m and length of 400ft / 122m, so imagine moving an object around the length of, and 5 times the width of, Bretagne turned sideways. Smaller versions could be developed say for 30 cars, which projecting out could operate more points to point services, but the GEVs still don't deal with large freight, hence previous remark about threats.

There is a very high probability that electric and more automated traditional ferries will be here before larger GEVs go into service on shorter routes like Portsmouth to Cherbourg, providing quicker and should be cheaper services negating some of the benefit of GEV investment. This is hampered not by ship design and batteries, but by the limited electrical supply infrastructure to the ports to charge the ship (and large GEVs) up.

Also the luxury of the breathing space / time to relax onboard a traditional ferry can only be got by using a ferry, and why ferries will always be superior to the breathless dash of the Eurotunnel, or the increasing hassle of flying.

These type of craft will find niche services like hovercraft did, and to echo @Cabin-boy, inter Channel Islands (10 minutes) and then to France, possibly UK if less time / hassle than flying, or UK to IoM (25 minutes Liverpool to Douglas), as more likely use cases. Not sure how many foot passengers will want to go from Portsmouth to Cherbourg except to try it out and come straight back again. We also have no costs for the craft so no idea at what premium the tickets prices will be either.

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I cant help thinking the regulations would be a nightmare to agree. It appears not to be fly very high at all - so serious potential for collisions with other large vessels at sea, especially when taking off and landing. There would have to be agreed "sea sky" lanes, surely, and pretty serious observation kit onboard?

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1 hour ago, Barry Thomas said:

but honestly the Channel is not smooth, anything but for much of the year, and I think that this would be exposed to the same perils as flying boats i.e. they needed a chop to get them unstuck from the water but were very susceptible to damage from rogue waves, flotsam etc. Imagine what would happen if one of these caught a submerged shipping container?????

These craft have a hydrofoil to start the voyage / flight (?) with which unsticks them from the water. They will take off in highly charted waters with comprehensive weather forecasts, so the likely hold of hitting anything will be practically zero. Agree, sea state will be the limiting factor, but we don't have the tech specs yet to see how limited.

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33 minutes ago, Shipping Forecast said:

This is hampered not by ship design and batteries, but by the limited electrical supply infrastructure to the ports to charge the ship (and large GEVs) up.

Isn't that the big problem with all this dash for Electric, the infrastructure and clean generating capacity.  We can only cover the country with so many Solar panels and Wind farms, we need the land to grow food or we end up importing even more than we do now, which isn't very green.  The only answer would be more Nuclear power but the Greens don't want them.

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A ferry full of cars is supported by the water it floats in and just needs power to push it along. A plane full of cars needs sufficient power to lift them into the air before you even think about going anywhere.

I cannot see the attractions of a foot passenger GEV as described. What possible advantage would it have over existing low cost airlines which offer a choice of departure and arrival destinations from your nearest regional airport which, for most people, will be nearer than taking public transport to and from the channel  ports? Much faster overall journey time unless you happen to live near one channel port and want to go somethere near another on the other side.

The Russians poured a lot of money into the concept for troop carrying but couldn't make it viable even with conventional power plants.

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2 hours ago, Solo said:

Isn't that the big problem with all this dash for Electric, the infrastructure and clean generating capacity.  We can only cover the country with so many Solar panels and Wind farms, we need the land to grow food or we end up importing even more than we do now, which isn't very green.  The only answer would be more Nuclear power but the Greens don't want them.

I get fed up with the Greens sticking their oar in, they would have us go back to the stone age.  Had a few of them trying to scupper the Air Festival in Bournemouth, with one suggesting an Electric Grand Prix and a cycling festival.  Air Festival brings millions to the local economy.  They want cycling lanes everywhere down here along with a few other totally impracticable ideas, never liked the Tory Party in Bournemouth, but after the Unity Alliance, they are most welcome!! 

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I am struggling to see what need this would fill, though I don't doubt that it could work.

Perhaps if it sailed / flew between two ports on the high speed rail network, either side of the channel, then it could be part of a viable, lower carbon alternative to flying?

Taking my car from Portsmouth to Cherbourg might be attractive if I lived in the south of England, though I suspect that market is small and dwindling and if the cost was much higher than a conventional ferry, then it wouldn't get a look in.

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3 hours ago, Solo said:

Isn't that the big problem with all this dash for Electric, the infrastructure and clean generating capacity.  We can only cover the country with so many Solar panels and Wind farms, we need the land to grow food or we end up importing even more than we do now, which isn't very green.  The only answer would be more Nuclear power but the Greens don't want them.

For grid infrastructure the National Grid can cope with the massive swap to electrification (from National Grid themselves), in fact they would welcome more EVs etc charging at night as it would balance the grid more evenly through a 24 hour period. 

With solar the issue is not with coverage, there is more than enough roof space in the UK to cover with solar panels to generate all the electricity we need. Most houses and businesses especially in the South of the UK could look after their electrical needs with solar and a small battery to store the power in for non solar hours, reducing pressure on the grid as a whole. But roof top solar is more complicated than the much easier landowner covering a field in low level panels.

The beauty of solar / wind is it's distributed nature. making the old centralised generation the incorrect way to look at the system.  In other places around the world they are doing sensible installations above other infrastructure for a double win - aqueducts where the panel shade also help keeps the water from evaporation, car parks, keeping cars cooler, then requiring less energy to cool down etc. All this could be done with community or area generation benefiting locals as well and help councils /schools etc raise some cash that was not available to them before. 

And instead of investing in new fossil fuel power stations why not pay for solar to be installed and make it mandatory to install solar roofs either panel or solar tiles on any new roof, or on current roofs above a certain size. Texas, the oil state, actually produces more zero emission power than any other state in the US. Why? Oil field owners quickly discovered that wind power was cheap / free for pumping the expensive oil out of the ground so they could make even more money.

As for covering fields, agrivoltaics is rising fast too, as the shade from high level panels is being found to improve crop yields with lower temperatures and reduced direct sunlight. It is just in the UK we mostly went for the cheap option, not necessarily the most useful. And ironically, importing food can be more eco friendly than buying local, due to the inputs to grow the food, it is not a simple equation.

And using modular nuclear reactors or travelling wave reactor designs can reduce the cost of nuclear in a safe manner and be more local instead of the over priced monstrosity that is Hinkley Point B. The reason the alternatives are not operational is invested interests in the old designs.

The greens are split, those who can understand the need to transition and that includes nuclear, and the eco twits, who closed down Germany's nuclear power sector, so the German grid now relies on the worst kind of dirty brown coal which has killed more people in one year than nuclear has in it's lifetime.. What a way to save the planet.

The Earth does not need saving, it has been around for billions of years, survived 5 mass extinctions and will do very nicely if we are not around, humanity needs saving from destroying itself.

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1 hour ago, Shipping Forecast said:

With solar the issue is not with coverage, there is more than enough roof space in the UK to cover with solar panels to generate all the electricity we need. Most houses and businesses especially in the South of the UK could look after their electrical needs with solar and a small battery to store the power in for non solar hours, reducing pressure on the grid as a whole

I agree with you there, if every new build had to have panels installed, especially factories warehouses etc, it would make more sense than covering fields with panels.

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8 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Less good for domestic houses where the panels can really disfigure the appearance of the building.

Solar tiles are available that replace your roof tiles and are harder wearing. They usually come in modular strips, making easy them to install a number of tiles at once, and the good systems enable you to have the whole roof solar and non solar edge pieces in the same style. A recent installation.

image.thumb.png.f75175d1c374a452d2ff33e8e4c9734c.png

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 The manufacturers are increasing the available styles. Solar tiles are made in the UK.

You can also get integrated panels, better than panels but not as good as tiles.

image.png.762a8926f5bf41207a8bf8f195120477.png

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Coming back to the story of the flying ferry, in my experience of corporate communications, this looks like a ruse to divert attention away from bad news stories. Perhaps the company is picking up on a workforce which is becoming demotivated and sees no future, or it sees stories beginning to circulate about the company going bust.

Answer? Promote a story about a bold new future and workers’ and customers’ fears go into background. Management is seen to be creative, so no need to worry about the future. It costs very little to mock up a picture of a flying ferry, it gets lots of positive media coverage. Nobody here would expect this to ever happen, but the story has done its job.

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