World’s second-largest ferry operator switching from diesel to batteries

(Greentech Media, 29 Nov 2019) Washington State Ferries consumes as much fuel as a midsized airline.

Washington State Ferries, which runs the second-largest ferry system in the world, is switching from diesel to batteries amid a growing trend toward electrification in shipping.

Ian Sterling, public information officer for Washington State Ferries, said the move would cut the cost and pollution caused by the current annual consumption of almost 20 million gallons of diesel across a fleet of 22 vessels ferrying 25 million people a year.

The government-owned ferry operator’s annual fuel consumption is on par with that of a "midsize airline,” he said, making it the state’s biggest diesel polluter.

Washington State Ferries is among the bodies mandated to strive for zero emissions under legislation introduced by state governor Jay Inslee, said Sterling. But the switch to batteries is "not just because the governor said [to do] it."

“This is a good idea because it quiets the boats [while] obviously removing tons of diesel fuel emissions. But even if you’re not an environmentalist, this is a good idea for the taxpayer because we expect it to pay for itself relatively quickly, based on the price of fuel. It saves millions of dollars annually.”

Washington State Ferries had looked at using hybrid or liquid natural-gas-powered vessels as far back as around 2012, said Sterling, but found the technology wasn’t mature enough. Now, improvements in battery technology coming out of the automotive sector are prompting a second look.

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Greentech Media, 29 Nov 2019: World’s second-largest ferry operator switching from diesel to batteries