LETTER: All-electric ferry needed for Kootenay Lake

From reader Steve White

Re: “Why wait to convert ferry to electric,” Letters, May 9 and “Make new ferry 100% electric,” Letters, May 23

Mary Donald’s and Ron Robinson’s recent letters in the Nelson Star for an all-electric ferry are absolutely spot on.

It’s been announced on the B.C. government website (gov.bc.ca/kootenaylakeferryproject) that the 65-year-old MV Balfour ferry will be replaced in 2022 by a 55-vehicle, electric-ready ferry. The new ferry promises to be “simple, robust, and economical.” But what does “electric-ready” mean? It means we will receive a long overdue new ferry, but still with diesel power. Not until 2030 will the diesel ferry convert to full electric power. 2030! And all of B.C.’s inland ferries will convert to full electric power by 2040. 2040!

Diesel power is a 19th-century technology, which is entirely fossil fuel-based. A 21st century all-electric ferry is fully available right here and right now. Richmond-based Corvus Energy is clearly a global leader in electric storage systems for short run maritime applications. Corvus’ performance has proven to be safe and reliable. Currently, they are providing five new 50-vehicle all-electric ferries to Norway, due for service in just a few months (January 2020). Eight new electric ferries are presently serving on coastal routes in Norway. In total, both electric and hybrid ferries are in use in 40 applications.

Electric storage systems aside, electric marine propulsion systems have been around since 1903. Today Siemens is one such world-class leader. The advantages are much lower operating costs, no greenhouse gases, no air pollution, and almost no noise. Long-suffering Kootenay Lake users will put up with much less downtime for maintenance and repairs, and fewer interruptions in service. And, there could possibly be faster running times. Visitors love the beautiful, scenic lake crossing. Could our new all-electric ferry be one of the first in North America? This could be an additional draw for our tourist industry.

An all-electric ferry technology is available here, now! Climate disruptions are here, now! Is an all-electric ferry coming to Kootenay Lake? Soon?

Steve White

Gray Creek

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