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Seaspan Ferries pilots use of renewable natural gas on LNG-powered fleet

Company estimates missions can be reduced by upwards of 85 per cent versus traditional diesel fuel.
Seaspan Ferries has become the first Canadian marine company to pilot the use of renewable natural gas for its marine fleet. (Seaspan Ferries photo)

Seaspan Ferries has become the first Canadian marine company to pilot the use of renewable natural gas for its marine fleet.

In partnership with ForitsBC, the cargo transport company will pilot the use of RNG on its marine fleet of LNG-powered vessels.

Seaspan estimates the use of RNG can reduce their emissions by 85 per cent compared to diesel fuels.

“Renewable Natural Gas, when used in our fleet in conjunction with traditional natural gas, will allow us to move towards our emissions reduction goals and make a real impact on our carbon footprint,” said Harly Penner, director of fleet engineering and vessel development at Seaspan. “It also allows us to leverage the growing production of RNG in our region. We look forward to continuing to work on growing our sustainability efforts in the near future.”

FortisBC developed its RNG program in 2011 as an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas. The utility has been working to increase supply of RNG and recently reopened the program to customers.

Renewable natural gas is harvested from biogases emitted by the breakdown of organic materials in landfills, agricultural waste and wastewater treatment facilities. This process renders RNG a carbon-neutral fuel source.

RNG is fully compatible with existing natural gas infrastructure and can be used as a drop-in fuel on LNG-powered vehicles without incurring extra costs. RNG has also been used in the past to power TransLink CNG buses.

Arvind Ramashakarin, senior manager of low carbon transportation and LNG business growth at Fortis said that RNG has multiple applications beyond transportation.

“Every customer can take advantage of the program, but we’re seeing a lot more demand from transportation customers. The primary driver of that is not just that they’re able to use it as a drop-in fuel to lower GHGs and meet their emission reduction targets, but more importantly, they’re able to generate credits by using renewable natural gas and monetize those credits in the marketplace.”

Ramashakarin believes Fortis can power 70-80 per cent of their grid with renewable sources like RNG and hydrogen fuels by 2050. By the end of 2021, FortisBC expects to have tripled its supply of RNG compared to 2020 and is on track to triple it again by 2022.

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