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Marine Delivers Magazine 2022

St. Lawrence Seaway achieves major progress towards net-zero carbon

Photo by Bill Salton Photography.

Significant investments in new cleaner technologies contributed to reducing the SLSMC’s carbon emissions by 69% compared to 2005 levels

With its efforts to facilitate a green shipping corridor and progressively decarbonize its operations, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is helping to achieve Canada’s net-zero carbon emission commitments.

“Significant investments in new cleaner technologies contributed to reducing the SLSMC’s carbon emissions by 69% compared to 2005 levels,” shares Nicolas Poirier-Quesnel, Manager, Government and Community Relations. “That puts us ahead of the 40% to 45% reduction that the federal government has mandated by 2030, and our close to net zero emissions operations put us in good position to meet the net zero GHG emissions reductions set for 2050.”

“We’re now in the process of installing additional electrical chargers at our buildings in Montreal and Niagara areas to make full use of the electric vehicles we have and supply power to additional ones we intend to acquire,” Poirier-Quesnel adds.

During the navigational season’s opening and closing, the Seaway system has produced less carbon by replacing diesel-fueled salamanders with electrical-powered agitators and replacing diesel-powered air compressors with electrical ones to keep locks ice-free.

“Our footprint reduction is due not only to the use of greener technologies, but also to our employees’ environmentally focused mindset,” Poirier-Quesnel says. “For instance, improved communications and coordination between operators, controllers and employees on the locks result in more efficient monitoring of ice formation and for diesel-powered ice-control equipment to be only used in targeted locations when absolutely necessary.

The Welland Canal has been a hallmark of self-generating zero-carbon renewable hydroelectricity since 1932. The canal is energy self-sufficient because of the powerhouse located at the base of Lock 4, which features a distribution system that runs from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie. It supplies the power to eight bridges, 11 locks (including water control gates and valves), navigational lights and a number of buildings and other structures.

While the Seaway’s hands-free mooring system was primarily installed to improve safety, it also reduced vessel transit times through the locks, thereby also reducing fuel use and the related emissions.

“Given that each vessel passing through the Seaway removes the equivalent of approximately 1,000 trucks off the road, we’re looking at everything we can do to support the marine industry, which is a strong environmental alternative to other modes of transportation,” Poirier-Quesnel says.