Washington State has signed a state transportation budget that includes US $600,000 dedicated to examining the conversion of three ferries in the Washington State Ferries (WSF) fleet from diesel to hybrid electric.
The Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Puyallup of the Jumbo Mark II Class, which are the largest vessels in the WSF fleet and account for 26% of fuel consumed, will be fitted with lithium-ion batteries and converted to all electric propulsion, reducing fuel consumption and lowering emissions. By installing lithium-ion batteries, WSF expect carbon emissions and fuel consumption to be reduced dramatically, contributing significantly to the 2020 emission reduction targets set by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDT).
According to a report by the WSDT, once converted, the hybrid ferries will still carry fuel in preparation for an onshore power outage or natural disaster. To prevent contamination of this fuel from condensation and bacteria growth, it is expected that a fuel-purifying loop will be fitted to the ferries to continuously clean the fuel in the storage tanks.
The vessels, which operate on the Seattle-Bainbridge and Edmonds-Kingston routes each have a capacity of 2020 vehicles and 1,500 passengers. Conversions are expected to take place between now and 2019 following the signing of the state transportation budget by Washington Governor, Jay Inslee this week.
The WSDT report on the conversion of the Jumbo Mark II Class ferries can be found here.