San Francisco powers the world’s first commercial hydrogen ferry

Switch Maritime has invested $3 million in public funds to build the world’s first commercial hydrogen-powered ferry in San Francisco.

First emission-free fuel cell ferry tested for passengers in San Francisco. The Sea Change vessel is powered by hydrogen fuel cells and batteries, and is the world’s first hydrogen-powered ferry.

The shuttle will start carrying passengers along the waterfront in late spring this year. A tug took the ferry from Washington to San Francisco last Sunday.

The 75-passenger catamaran was developed with $3 million in public funding from Switch Maritime. This company creates zero-emission maritime vessels, including the Sea Change, which uses hydrogen fuel cells to turn the ship’s propellers.

The Sea Change has 10 hydrogen tanks that store 246 kg of compressed gas at a pressure of 250 bar, allowing the shuttle to travel around 150 nautical miles at a cruising speed of around 12 knots. The shuttle can operate for approximately 16 hours without refueling.


Clean energy in the sea

The San Francisco Bay Emergency Water Transportation Authority (WETA) plans to phase out diesel ferries by 2035. In addition to the hydrogen ferry pilot, the agency also plans to deploy battery-electric ferries, after receiving last year $14.9 million. grant from the California State Transportation Agency.

Passenger ferries and the maritime sector are responsible for around 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and WETA hopes the pilot project will demonstrate that hydrogen fuel cells can help the sector shift away from fossil fuels.

A monumental step, as hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels are seen as a path to carbon-free solutions for large, powerful applications such as ships.

Pace Ralli, CEO of Switch Maritime

The California Air Resources Board’s $3 million grant is part of a $20 million cap-and-trade auction for clean technology development.

The shuttle produces zero emissions when in operation, but operators cannot source green or zero-emission hydrogen to power Sea Change. Using green hydrogen could be the next step in fully decarbonizing the ferry industry.

The arrival of the world’s first commercial hydrogen-powered ferry in San Francisco is a major step forward in the fight against climate change in the maritime sector. The implementation of clean technologies in water transport will help to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

More information: SW/TCH Maritime (

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