BC Ferries to buy four electric-hybrid ferries
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Nov 14, 2019
Katie Ingram

New ferry purchase is double the size of a previous order, adds to momentum of ferry electrification in Canada

A rendering BC Ferries four Island Class hybrid-electric ferries. Source: BC Ferries

New ferry purchase is double the size of a previous order, adds to momentum of ferry electrification in Canada

BC Ferries has reaffirmed its commitment to a cleaner transportation service, spending $200 million to purchase four additional electric-hybrid ferries.

Announced on Nov. 6, the ferries, which are part of the company’s Island Class fleet, will be operational by 2022. They join two other electric-hybrid ferries that are expected to be in use in 2020.

All of the ferries are being built by Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group.

“Our Clean Futures Plan spells out our strategy to reduce GHG emissions by replacing our legacy carbon intensive fossil fuelled vessels with ships using clean energy,” says Captain Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries’ vice-president, business development and innovation. “These next four Island Class ships are a major step in our plan to progressively lower emissions across the fleet and be a leader in the energy transition to a lower carbon future.”

Hybrid to all-electric

Of note, while the ferries will use an electric hybrid system, BC Ferries says that as the charging technology “matures to make electricity available in the quantities required,” it expects to convert them to all-electric.

This approach differs from the two ferries the Ontario government is buying from Damen for use on eastern Lake Ontario, serving Kingston and several nearby island communities. Those vessels, which are to start operation in 2020, will be fully electric from the outset — “the first fully electric, non-cable vessels in Canada,” according to Damen.

The new B.C. ferries are expected to service three routes — Campbell River-Quadra Island, Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island and either Powell River-Texada Island or the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island.

A snapshot of BC Ferries Island Class battery-hybrid ferries. Source: BC Ferries
This rendering provides a closer look at one of BC Ferries Island Class battery-hybrid vessels. Source: BC Ferries

Expanded service

They will also enable BC Ferries to expand its existing service by deploying two ferries per route in place of the current one-ferry-per-route system.

“By replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on each of these routes, customers will receive more frequent service, increased passenger capacity per hour, reduced vehicle line-ups, improved safety and reduced congestion on local roads,” says the company.

“It also eliminates the need to consume more green space to increase the size of terminal holding compounds by moving more traffic through the same amount of space.”

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