Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Eco-friendly cargo ship firm invited to Downing Street

Gordon Brown at Downing Street
One hundred low-carbon firms were invited to Downing Street

A delegation from a Larne-based company developing eco-friendly cargo ships is to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

B9 Shipping designs and manufactures cargo ships which are not dependent on fossil fuels. The first such vessel will be launched in 2012.

It was one of 100 companies invited to Downing Street on Thursday evening for "embracing the low-carbon economy".

The event comes days ahead of a summit in Copenhagen aimed at establishing a new global treaty on climate change.

Mr Brown said: "Our transition to a low-carbon economy will be a key driver of our future economic prosperity - B9 Shipping is at the forefront of this transformation."

The launch of B9's first vessel in 2012 will coincide with the opening of new biomass power stations across the UK, and its ships will be used to import bio material from the Baltic states.

The boat will be powered using conventional soft sails and biogas marine engines.

'Competitive'

The company anticipates that by 2020, 50 ships will be needed to bring the biomass industry into compliance with the Renewable Energy Directive.

It believes that eventually there will be opportunities to replace 10,000 coastal vessels of a similar size which operate throughout the world.

B9 Shipping director Diane Gilpin said use of their eco-friendly ships would mean the benefits of biomass would not be cancelled out by pollution caused by transportation.

"The International Energy Agency has estimated that biomass power generators will need up to 45m tonnes of biomass a year," she said.

"If the bio-material is transported into the UK using fossil fuel, this negates emissions saved in power generation. Our new vessels offer a commercially competitive solution."

She added: "We'll also be creating new jobs and regeneration in areas where the shipping industry once thrived, such as Hull, the Tyne and the Tees where we plan to build the ships."



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