On a statewide level, Washington State Ferries (WSF) is the largest producer of GHG emissions in the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), accounting for 67% of the total emissions, according to a recent WSF study.

As explained, the three selected vessels of the Jumbo Mark II Class consume 26% of the fuel in the WSF fleet. By installing lithium-ion batteries and converting the Jumbo Mark IIs to all electric propulsion, carbon emissions would be drastically reduced, the report found.

As such, the proposed solution appears to be the installing of massive banks of batteries below deck on the three largest of WSF's 22 active vessels: the 'Tacoma', the 'Wenatchee' and the 'Puyallup', which serve the Seattle-Bainbridge and Edmonds-Kingston routes, with a combined capacity of thousands of passengers.

Shipping electrification is considered an important step towards a zero-emission future, as it is expected to contribute to cutting emissions from fossil energy sources, especially for inland waterways. European countries, mostly Northern, have shown particular interest in hybrid electric vessels for short sea shipping in the last years. A recently announced Sweden-based collaboration between six organisations, called 'Electromobility for Shipping', intends to promote and enhance shipping electrification, with the aim of a more sustainable future in the maritime sector.

Given the late 1990's emissions standards that the Jumbo Mark II diesel engines were required to meet, the emissions savings is likely even greater in regard to NOx, SOx, and diesel particulate matter. This project would have enormous impact in meeting the 2020 emissions targets. Hybridization of the Jumbo Mark IIs has the potential to accomplish WSF's role of providing safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation across the waters of Puget Sound in a revolutionary new way.

The proposed budget also includes a $5.6 million funding for electric vehicle infrastructure, by installing additional publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations in Washington, $2 million for hiring and training additional staff onboard Washington State Ferries, as well as $5 million for better accommodating the use of autonomous vehicles on state roads.

The following report is a Hybrid System Integration Study on conversion of the three ferries: