The CCGS M. Perley is one of Canada’s combustion nearshore fishery research vessels. This model of ship will soon come in a hybrid-electric model. Photo: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Canada’s seafaring fleet is exploring multiple ways to reduce its carbon emissions with the Canadian Coast Guard opening bids to construct a hybrid-electric fishery research vessel and testing biodiesel blends to lower emissions in its combustion vessels

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is tackling its fleet emissions in a double-pronged approach that will see both hybrid-electric power and lower-emitting fuels adopted by at least two marine vessels.

Decarbonization of all government fleets is a major priority for the federal government and transitioning away from combustion seafaring vessels — as polluters of both air and water — is an opportunity to double the environmental benefit.

“This new electric hybrid powered vessel and the use of biodiesel in our fleet have the potential to become a watershed moment in future shipbuilding and green fuel use. These initiatives gives us reasons to be proud and to be hopeful,” said Mario Pelletier, Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, in a press release.

Progress so far

Earlier this month the CCGS Caribou Isle trialed a 20 per cent biodiesel blended fuel supplied by Windsor-based Sterling Fuels. The five-person crewed ship was first launched in 1985. It consumes 2,400 litres of fuel per day according to government documents.

“Over the next months, various biodiesel ratios will be tested in order to enable the CCG to assess operational feasibility and technological compatibility of higher blend rates across various operational settings,” reads the press release. “This biodiesel test project will assist in advancing solutions to decrease emissions in the immediate term.”

The hybrid-electric vessel, on the other hand, is a longterm vision under the National Shipbuilding Strategy and with the hope that it will increase fishery science undertakings in the St. Lawrence River and Gulf region.

A request for proposal is now issued to marine builders for construction of a hybrid-electric Near-Shore Fishery Research Vessel (NSFRV). The boat has already been designed by British Columbia-based vessel designer Robert Allan Ltd., the propulsion system engineered by Prince Edward Island’s engineering firm Aspin Kemp and Associates, and the deck equipment systems come from Nova Scotia’s Hawboldt Industries Ltd.

“The Canadian Coast Guard is taking significant steps in reducing its carbon footprint with these two initiatives. I’m looking forward to expanding these green initiatives, which will chart a positive course toward a cleaner, low-carbon environment from coast-to-coast-to-coast,” said Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in press materials.

Other EVs on the seas

B.C.-based Shift Clean Energy is another Canadian player making news in commercial marine decarbonization. Last month, the company announced it has supplied energy storage systems (ESS) to 17 hybrid and electric tugboats to global clients including Vallianz (Singapore) and ZEEboat (New York).

“An operational e-tug will reduce at least 150 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually versus a conventional tug. This is equivalent to removing 500 typical passenger vehicles from the road,” reads Shift’s press release.

According to Shift data, shipping accounts for three per cent of the global CO2 emissions and marine logistics are responsible for 90 per cent of the world’s trade.

Atlantic Canada makes strides to decarbonize commercial marine vessels