All American Marine, Inc. (AAM) and the vessel owner SWITCH Maritime (SWITCH) recently announced the launch and operational trials of Sea Change, a 70-foot, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area. This will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US, representing a monumental step in the US maritime industry’s transition to a sustainable future. (Photo quoted from AAM’s website)
The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialization for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies. While still working on permitting hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels with the US Coast Guard, the completed ferry will exhibit the viability of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for the commercial and regulatory communities.
The project is funded by private capital from SWITCH, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonization and energy transition of the US maritime sector. “By working closely with the US Coast Guard, with innovative technology partners, and with best-in-class shipyards such as All American Marine, we can make the transition to decarbonized shipping a reality today,” said Pace Ralli, Co-Founder and CEO of SWITCH. “We don’t have to wait.”
SWITCH’s mission-driven platform seeks to work with existing ferry owners and operators around the country to help facilitate their adoption of zero-carbon vessels to replace aging diesel-powered vessels, leveraging significant experience from the technologies used in the build of this first ferry.
AAM is a leading builder of hybrid-electric vessels in the United States and was chosen to complete this project because of their experience building unique, high-quality vessels. AAM’s new state-of-the-art shipyard has an expanded capacity and production capabilities for additional, larger and more complex vessels.
The construction and completion of Sea Change further exemplify AAM’s position as a leading technological innovator in the North American marketplace, and a leading manufacturer of vessels with custom propulsion and design characteristics to create the best performing vessel in its given class.
“Hydrogen-fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies,” said Ron Wille, AAM President & COO. “AAM is continuing our tradition of building vessels on the leading edge of technology using advanced propulsion methods, which is why we are so proud to have completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”
The vessel is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell power package provided by Zero Emissions Industries (formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), comprising 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 a lithium-ion battery provided by XALT and a 2x 300 kW electric propulsion system provided by BAE Systems. The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain system affords the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and less maintenance. The vessel design originates from Incat Crowther, and the construction supervision and management are led by Hornblower Group.
This project has received important municipal support including a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), that comes from California Climate Investments, a California statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy, and improve public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.
Additionally, the project received the first ever loan guarantee under BAAQMD’s Climate Tech Finance program, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by accelerating emerging climate technologies. In partnership with the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank and the Northern California Financial Development Corporation (NorCal FDC), the Climate Tech Finance team led a technology qualification and greenhouse gas analysis that deemed SWITCH eligible for a loan guarantee.
This loan guarantee supported SWITCH in securing a $5 million construction and term loan with KeyBank, which enabled SWITCH to bring this important project to completion.
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