The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) will provide a letter of support to BC Ferries’ federal funding request to electrify its fleet.
The first stage of its plan involves modifying six existing Island Class vessels from diesel-electric to battery-electric, in addition to upgrading nine ferry terminals to enable rapid charging. BC Ferries estimated the initial stage will cost approximately $150 million and two – three years to complete.
“Taking action to address climate change is an integral component of a sustainable future of our fleet and also our communities,” said Hansi Liu-Atkinson, energy manager for BC Ferries.
The second stage will involve building another seven Island Class battery-electric vessels and modifying another nine terminals for rapid charging, Liu-Atkinson said. BC Ferries said it will contribute to the combined cost of $1.19 billion, but the project is dependent on federal funding.
Two Island Class vessels were launched last year and four more are expected to enter service in November, said Capt. Jamie Marshall, vice-president of ship building and innovation.
The fleet will be one-third zero emission once all 13 Island Class vessels are completed and converted to battery-electric power, according to Marshall.
Liu-Atkinson said the project would prioritize Canadian employment and contribute to a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. She added it would “help set a new precedent for the future of marine decarbonization in the country.”
The board voted unanimously to provide a letter of support.
“This is an excellent project — exciting. Thank you very much for the leadership at BC Ferries. I look forward to getting a letter of support,” said Director Ben Geselbracht.
Island Class ferries can carry 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew depending on configuration, according to BC Ferries. The first two Island Class vessels were deployed on the Powell River – Texada Island and Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island routes last year.
BC Ferries said it issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) for the construction of the four latest vessels to leading shipyards in Canada and around the world in July 2018, but no Canadian companies submitted a bid.