An environmental group has concluded that about 2,300 lobster boats operating off Nova Scotia are suitable candidates to switch from diesel to electric power, a switch that would dramatically reduce the industry’s emissions.
The province’s lobster fishery is positioned to lead the way toward zero-emissions fishing if governments help the shipbuilding sector develop new technologies, says a report released Thursday by Oceans North.
Seventy per cent of the fleet fishes within 20 kilometers of its home port, the Ottawa-based advocacy group says, meaning ships can safely rely on electric power.
Nova Scotia’s lobster fleet produces about 82 million kilograms of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to the emissions of about 35,000 cars, according to the study.
The best for new boats
Brent Dancey, director of marine climate action for Oceans North, said in an interview Thursday that the move to electric would be more efficient for new vessels, for which energy-efficient hulls could be designed to accommodate battery needs. .
However, he said ships currently in operation could also be fitted with electrical systems, especially when their diesel engines need to be overhauled.
“There will be ship-by-ship opportunities to do the conversion using the original hull,” he said. “Some engineering and feasibility assessments will be needed on a case-by-case basis. But we hope there will be opportunities for conversions.”
Competitive with diesel over time.
Oceans North says the total cost of an electric system is competitive with diesel over a 20-year horizon because the higher purchase price is offset by lower operating costs.
According to the group’s “simplified analysis” of the propulsion system costs of a 12-meter ship (assuming the ship would use about 260 kilowatt hours of power per day), the price of a diesel engine would be $70,000, versus $170,000 for a battery electric system. .
Information morning – NS8:30What will it take to make electric lobster boats?
But over time, 20-year operation and maintenance costs for the diesel engine would be about $280,000, much more than the roughly $85,000 for the battery-powered boat.
The group notes that more study is needed on the economic arguments in favor of electrification, including expected increases in the price of diesel, the likely increase in the price of carbon emissions, and the inclusion of subsidies and incentives for switching. fuel.
Dancey said the key to achieving change is for governments to send a “signal to the market” by setting clear targets for emissions reductions, as has happened in the motor vehicle sector.
The study calls on Ottawa to include commercial fishing in its marine climate action plan, setting a goal for “at least 10 per cent of the lobster fleet, about 300 boats, to be powered by electricity or zero-emission fuels such as green hydrogen”. 2030.”
It also calls for the federal government to ban the sale of new diesel-powered commercial fishing vessels by 2035.
Ottawa has already set a goal for one in five cars sold in the country to be zero-emission by 2026 and for 60 per cent of them to be zero-emission by 2030.
By 2035, Canada intends to ban the sale of new internal combustion engines in passenger vehicles.
In 2020, the federal government announced that Canada has a goal of reducing net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
The report argues that if Canada takes a leading role in the shift to electric boats, it would create a huge boost for the country’s boatbuilding industry.
It notes that there are 15,000 small fishing vessels in Canada and 25,000 of similar size in the US, and “all of these vessels will need to be replaced or converted… the economic opportunity to modernize Canada’s fishing fleet is estimated to be at least 10 billion dollars.” “.
“Developing expertise and knowledge… ahead of other jurisdictions will position Nova Scotia to secure economic and social benefits, rather than having to import knowledge and technology,” the report says.
MORE TOP STORIES