After the Coast, the Kootenays have the highest number of ferry routes in the province. They also happen to be located in an area that is largely powered by renewable hydro-electricity.
What if we combined the two? Sweden and Norway have already done so, and the results so far are promising. Stockholm has retrofitted a passenger ferry that is 75 feet long and can carry 100 passengers. It can quick charge in 10 minutes! I can imagine retrofitting (or replacing) the Sea Bus in Vancouver with such a unit.
The newest and largest electric ferry that I am aware of is an 80 metre long unit in Norway running back and forth across a fjord over 30 times per day on a 6 km route. It has about 900kW of power and stores around 1,000 kWh of energy. It can carry up to 120 vehicles and 360 passengers, which puts it on size for the biggest inland ferries in BC (e.g. similar in size to the Osprey that runs from Balfour to Kootenay Bay). The coolest thing is that they have addressed peak demand to the grid by having battery storage onshore that allows the ship to recharge faster, then have the onshore batteries recharge at a slower rate between sailings which helps to keep the size of the electrical servicing infrastructure lower. (Update: infamous Tesla Model S v-blogger Bjorn Nyland just posted a video about this very ferry, enjoy!)
For context, we have a similar sized ferry on a similar route right near Nelson – the MV Osprey 2000 running from Balfour to Kootenay Bay. We took this ferry in June 2016 and made a video about it… would sure be nice to be on an electric ferry for this route sometime in the next 10 years.
One unit in Norway has been operating since September of 2013 and has completed over thousands of trips. The size of this ferry is similar to the ferries that service Glade and Harrop-Proctor. Somewhat ironically, Electrovaya is based in Canada… hopefully our ferry operators are already talking with them behind the scenes (and from this article in the Sun a few months ago, maybe they are…)
It would be a pleasure to travel on a vessel that does not vibrate, generate lots of noise or emit a terrible stench from diesel fumes. I look forward to the day that our ferries are run on electricity, though I suspect neighbours of these routes would be even more appreciative!