1st U.S. hydrogen-powered ferry arrives in San Francisco

The first hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferry in the United States, named Sea Change, has arrived in San Francisco, California.

Image credit: Switch Maritime

The vessel was towed to the California Bay Area on Sunday, March 13, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, adding that the vessel is expected to start taking its first passengers in late spring.

The arrival of the vessel was confirmed by both the shipbuilder and the owner of the vessel.

The 75-passenger ferry was built by All American Marine shipyard for the compatriot shipowner SWITCH Maritime. The vessel, designed by Incat Crowther, is fitted with hydrogen-powered fuel cells producing electricity to power electric motors enabling the vessel to sail distances of up to 300 nautical miles and reach speeds up to 20 knots.

The fuel cell power package is provided by Zero Emissions Industries (formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), comprised of 360 kW of Cummins fuel cells and Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks with a capacity of 246 kg.

This system is integrated with 100 kWh of the lithium-ion battery provided by XALT and a 2×300 kW electric propulsion system provided by BAE Systems.

Sea Change was delivered in August 2021 and fueled for the first time in November 2021. It was slated to launch commercial operations last year.

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It is the first zero-emission vessel intended for San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority as the ferry service operator pushes forward with plans to abandon fossil fuels and switch to greener operations.

 The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies.

The project has received a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and a $5 million construction and term loan SWITCH secured from KeyBank.