From Washington, a brand-new ferry that emits zero emissions has landed in San Francisco. It will start offering rides along the San Francisco waterfront in late spring and is thought to be the first commercial marine vehicle in the country to be totally powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology.
The 75-passenger catamaran known as the Sea Change was built with $3 million in state money as part of an initiative by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which runs ferry service in a significant portion of the bay.
Similar to the diesel ferries in the fleet, the Sea Change can run for 16 hours before refueling from a tank at the harbor at the end of the day. The main distinction is that water vapor is the only emission.
Part of $20 million in grants from cap-and-trade auction proceeds for high-tech vehicles and equipment, the California Air Resources Board gave the $3 million grant to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to work with Switch Maritime and other businesses to develop the technology used in the Sea Change.
The Sea Change is smaller than other passenger ferries that run in San Francisco Bay because it is the first; it is 70 feet long. However, it travels more slowly, often traveling at 11 knots (13 mph), as opposed to larger diesel ferries, which travel through the bay at 34 knots (40 mph).
The new ferry will remain on the San Francisco waterfront as a result, even though its precise route hasn’t been disclosed. The construction of the ferry cost about $14 million; subsequent ships will be built for less money, probably at a 30% premium over conventional diesel ferries.