Riding the wave: Toronto Island ferry electrification one of several zero-emission marine projects
Share Article
Read More
Jul 30, 2021
James Paul

Toronto Island Airport will soon be serviced by an all-electric ferry, while work is advancing on several other zero-emission vessel projects across the country

Image credit: Monianne77, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Toronto Island Airport will soon be serviced by an all-electric ferry, while work is advancing on several other zero-emission vessel projects across the country

The Marilyn Bell I entered the final phase of its retrofit transition to a fully electric lithium-ion battery-powered ferry last week when it reached the Toronto DryDock facility at Queens Quay. The ferry operates on the roughly 121-metre stretch of lake between the Toronto Island Airport and Queens Quay and is slated to be the first operational electric ferry in Canada.

Completion of the Marilyn BelI I conversion will mark an important step in PortsToronto’s commitment to the environment, according to the ferry operator. The work is to be completed later this year (pushed back from its original 2020 timeline), when the ferry is expected to rejoin service.

In a further zero-emission friendly move, PortsToronto is engaging Bullfrog Power to help put a kWh of renewable energy into the grid for every kWh of energy used by the ferry. This move will help to offset greenhouse gases from the airport ferry operation value chain, according to a press release from the organization.

Additionally PortsToronto also emphasizes the ferry will be much less conspicuous in the community and “will build on the airport’s Noise Management Program, as it will operate far more quietly, dramatically reducing related noise in the surrounding community.”

Perhaps the first, but not the only

While the Marilyn Bell I could be the first fully electric operational ferry in Canada, there is a transition taking place both down the lake and coast to coast.

At the east end of Lake Ontario, work is proceeding on new ferry terminals in Kingston and on nearby Wolfe and Amherst islands. A pair of electric ferries, with capacity for 400 and 300 passengers, respectively, are slated to begin making the round trip from Kingston to those two communities in the next two to three years.

Farther east, as Electric Autonomy Canada reported in June, Halifax is targeting 2024 for the launch of an electric ferry as part of project jointly funded by the city, the province and the federal government that also includes building one new terminal and retrofitting another, both to zero-emission specifications.

Across the country, ferry news is equally as busy.

This week, BC Ferries received its third new Island Class hybrid-electric ship.

The as-yet-unnamed vessel arrived in Victoria after a 64-day trip, under its own power, from a shipyard in Romania. When the ship passes its final inspection, BC Ferries will assume ownership.

Another vessel, BC Ferries’ fourth, is en route and is expected to join the fleet later this summer. The first two Island Class vessels are already in service along the coast. Two more vessels will be delivered to Victoria by the end of 2021, making a fleet of six new ships.

With the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew, all six have the capability to be converted to fully-electric. When this occurs depends on when funding is secured to put charging infrastructure into place.

Elsewhere in British Columbia

It’s not just the coast of B.C. getting an electric facelift. The Kootenay Lake Ferry Service is in the midst of an improvement project to upgrade both the Balfour and Kootenay Lake Terminals and replace the M.V. Balfour with a new 55-car “electric-ready” ship by 2023.

It’s unclear exactly what the vessel will be powered by initially before it becomes fully electric.

The Kootenay Lake Ferry improvements, with funding from the federal government, aim to improve safety and efficiency. According to a provincial government update, the upgrades include “…the procurement of a new right-sized electric-ready vessel. … [T]hese improvements will provide ferry users with a safer and more reliable ferry service as well as contribute to the Province’s goal of employing electric propulsion on all inland ferries by 2040.”

View Comments
You May Also Like