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BC Ferries Moves Forward with Green Investments

Canadian ferry owner and operator BC Ferries is continuing with numerous investments aimed at reducing the company’s environmental footprint. 

In fiscal 2019, BC Ferries invested CAD 241.1 million (around USD 183 million) in capital expenditures.

The company financed vessel upgrades and modifications, new vessels, IT projects, terminal building upgrades and terminal marine structures, reinvesting its earnings for the abovementioned period.

As informed, BC Ferries’ consolidated net earnings stood at CAD 52.2 million (USD 39.6 million) in fiscal 2019, compared to CAD 59.9 million seen a year earlier.

The company experienced its highest vehicle traffic levels ever in fiscal 2019, with passenger traffic levels being the second highest in the company’s history. Specifically, vehicle traffic increased 1.9 percent and passenger traffic 1.2 percent over the prior year.

“High traffic volumes allow good financial results which enable us to expand our service to communities, renew the fleet, upgrade terminals, pay down debt and reduce future borrowing,” Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ President and CEO, commented.

“These are essential for a sustainable and environmentally-friendly ferry system. Our CAD 3.9 billion 12-year capital plan addresses the need for a more resilient ferry service.”

BC Ferries now has five vessels operating on liquefied natural gas (LNG). While still a fossil fuel, it is a cleaner and less expensive fuel source than the ultra-low sulphur diesel used for the other vessels. The cable ferry, which operates between Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island and Denman Island, has smaller power requirements than a traditional ferry, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 50 percent.

Moreover, the company currently has two Island Class electric battery hybrid ships under construction for service to coastal communities on Northern Vancouver Island. When electric technology matures and electricity is available in the quantities required, BC Ferries plans to operate them as fully electric ferries.

During fiscal 2019, the company also re-introduced the upgraded Spirit of British Columbia into service. The vessel, followed by the second Spirit-class ferry, Spirit of Vancouver, underwent the LNG conversion in Poland.

In May 2019, BC Ferries issued a request for proposals for technical services to reduce underwater radiated noise from its vessels. This is expected to help reduce impacts on southern resident killer whales.

“Continued investment to reduce our environmental footprint is of great importance to BC Ferries,” Collins pointed out.

“We are on a path to greater sustainability by continuously developing and implementing innovative and cost effective ways to minimize our impact on the coastal environment in which we operate,” he concluded.