BC Ferries has completed the major mid-life upgrade of one of its two largest vessels, the 167-metre Spirit of British Columbia, which include conversion to natural gas fueled propulsion. It returned to service this week on the Metro Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay) route.
The vessel is the first of two vessels to be converted to operate on natural gas, which is much cleaner for the environment than marine diesel. The Spirit of Vancouver Island will undergo a mid-life upgrade from fall 2018 to spring 2019.
BC Ferries expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,500 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 2,500 vehicles off the road per year by using natural gas to fuel the two Spirit Class vessels. The company also expects fuel costs to simultaneously “be reduced by millions ” as a result of the change of fuel.
BC Ferries is a leader in North America when it comes to clean and innovative technology that lowers emissions. The Spirit of British Columbia is the first passenger vessel in the world to refuel LNG via delivery on a fully enclosed vehicle deck. The Salish Class vessels introduced last year were the first passenger vessels in the world to refuel LNG on an open vehicle deck via delivery truck. Both of these innovations were conceived by BC Ferries and designed, engineered and built by BC Ferries and its partners. The natural gas is provided by FortisBC and can be reliably delivered in B.C., which supports the local economy. These innovations saved BC Ferries’ customers more than $100 million in infrastructure costs that would have otherwise been required and have proven significant environmental benefits.
“The Spirit of British Columbia returns to service with clean technology that reduces both our environmental footprint and cost of operations,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President & CEO. “The two Spirit Class vessels consume approximately 16 per cent of our fuel annually. The conversion of our two largest ships in the fleet, along with the introduction of our three new natural gas-fuelled Salish Class vessels last year, goes a long way to improving the sustainability of our operations and affordability for ferry users.”
“Natural gas is the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel and using LNG in deep-sea ships provides an opportunity to significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and air quality on a global scale,” said Roger Dall’Antonia, president and CEO of FortisBC. “In collaboration with BC Ferries, we developed a first-in-the-world proprietary tanker truck technology to deliver fuel while on board the vessel. Innovative solutions like this help make it easier for transportation customers to make the switch to LNG.” FortisBC has been performing approximately a dozen or so onboard marine bunkering per week since December 2016, and will be reaching a milestone of 500 performed by the end of this week.
The Spirit Class vessels were built in 1993 and 1994 in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, by Integrated Ferry Constructors and have an approximate service life of 50 years. Each vessel can carry approximately 358 vehicles across two car decks and up to 2,100 passengers and crew with a service speed of 19.5 knots.
Source: BC Ferries
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