Cutting-edge hybrid boat built by a P.E.I. company goes to its new home in New Brunswick | CBC News

You’re invited to join Chief Hugh Akagi and our Council to tour and launch the new boat:

Date: Thursday, August 10, 2023 @ 10am

Location: Market Warf in St. Andrews, New Brunswick

‘It’s smooth. It’s quiet. I think it’s going to be a good boat’

The Passamaquoddy First Nation’s new hybrid lobster boat is heading home to New Brunswick.

The vessel and the green technology were developed by P.E.I. engineering company Aspin Kemp & Associates.

The lobster boat is called Hybrid One.

The company has created much bigger hybrid vessels before, which are being used around the world.

Company CEO Jason Aspin said making a hybrid system work in smaller fishing vessels has been a challenge.

“Because on the bigger vessels, a million dollar or multi-million dollar system can be justified as a cost, where on a small fishing vessel, it’s not. So we had to take a couple of decades of learning, and apply that to this concept to get those costs down and shrink the physical size of it down to integrate it into the repulsion system,” he said.

Panmure Island lobster fisher Dana Lavers has been testing out the vessel for Aspin Kemp for the past few months.

She says it’s proven just as powerful and effective as a full diesel boat, even when running on electric.

And there have been some pleasant surprises.

“We didn’t expect to dock in electric mode. That’s not what the system is built for and I docked an electric every single time. I haven’t used the diesel engine at all,” she said.

Fuel savings

Lavers said it’s also cut her fuel costs significantly, which is good for her bottom line, the environment, and could improve fishers’ lives in other ways.

“The first boat that I owned, the engine was in the wheelhouse, so I definitely have lost some hearing that I’m never going to get back again. So health-wise, it’s a huge plus,” she said.

“There’s also savings on your diesel engine. You’re not going to be doing as many oil changes. The upkeep is going to be spread out a lot longer. So you’re increasing the longevity of your diesel engine as well.”

The Passamaquoddy First Nation plans to use the the boat for scientific research on the water and for fishing.

Coun. Roland Sappier said they are happy to be on the cutting edge, and want to see how else the vessel could be used.

“One of the other possible uses would be to use it for some search and rescue operations, because with the usage of the battery, it enables the vessel to run almost silent. So if you’re on the waters and somebody’s hollering or whatever you’d be able to hear people. But with the diesel you probably wouldn’t be able to do that,” he said.

Neither the company nor the First Nation will say how much the boat cost.

Aspin Kemp’s CEO acknowledges there’s still work to do make the technology more affordable for fishers.

“It is a big cost adder. Initially, it’s a very big one. So it’s that initial start that’s the big hump to get over. And once it’s proven and the costs start to come down because of that proof, and those first steps, then there’ll be a lot more adaptation. We’ve seen a lot of interest over the last couple years,” Aspin said.

Aspin said the company has some bigger goals it’s aiming for as well.

“There’s a huge small vessel fleet. It contributes a lot to global emissions. And one of the primary things our company focuses on is reducing that environmental footprint of marine operations. So this is an important of element of that,” he said.

“The next step will be zero-emission operations. That’ll include new fuels, different types of propulsion engines, and looking at different sources of energy in general.”

As for how the new boat is doing so far, Passamaquoddy First Nation boat captain Matthew Lambert is impressed.

“It’s smooth. It’s quiet. I think it’s going to be a good boat. We’ll see. Everyone’s going to be watching this boat to see how it does, so hopefully it works out well,” he said.