TOTE Alaska Maritime, headquartered in Federal Way, intends to use the same type of ships to ferry cargo between Tacoma and Anchorage. In total, TOTE hauls a third of Alaska’s goods. PSE’s facility, when finished, will supply fuel to TOTE’s ships.
“These vessels are the most advanced, environmentally responsible vessels of their kind — reducing particulate matter by 99 percent, vessel sulfur emissions by 98 percent, nitrogen oxides by 91 percent and CO2 by 35 percent,” TOTE reports.
They surpass international shipping regulations, which require ships traveling within 200 miles of shore to use low-sulfur fuel. TOTE’s entire trip between Tacoma and Alaska falls within this North American Emissions Control Area.
Puget Sound Energy’s LNG facility will not only supply fuel to TOTE’s ships, but will provide natural gas to residential and commercial customers during peak cold weather demands. About six million of the eight million gallons produced in Tacoma will be set aside to provide natural gas to local customers.
That LNG reserve also provides a backup supply of natural gas — a need that was dramatically underscored in October with the explosion of a Canadian natural gas pipeline that reduced flows of natural gas to both British Columbia and Washington state, the Vancouver and BC Business Journal reported.
PSE’s Tacoma facility is small considering massive plants being constructed along the Gulf Coast and on Australia’s west coast. It is similar to Connecticut’s Yankee Gas plant which has operated safely since 2008. It is being built by the same contractors; however, it is smaller and not large enough to produce exportable LNG.
Switching to LNG is important to reduce air contamination especially while ships are docked. Many ports are not equipped with shore-side electrical cables that allow ships to hook up and turn off their engines. Many seaports are located in cities with already high GHG concentrations.
Making the fuel switch is important because 90 percent of the world trade is carried by ships, Hellenic Shipping News reports. Shipping represents 2.5 to 3.5 percent of global CO2 emissions.
The main causes of an increase in GHG emissions from ships are due to the growing demand for shipping to support international trade and the challenges with switching to lower-carbon fuels.
Projects, such as PSE is constructing, are essential to both our environment and economy. It’s simply time to finish the project.