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SWITCH and All American Marine launch world’s first commercial 100% hydrogen powered vessel

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All American Marine (AAM) and the vessel owner SWITCH Maritime (SWITCH) announced the launch and operating 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 United States, marking a watershed moment in the marine industry’s shift to a more sustainable future. The ferry was designed and built to illustrate a commercialization path for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell maritime technologies. While the US Coast Guard is currently working on approving hydrogen fuel systems for marine vessels, the finished ferry will demonstrate the commercial and regulatory communities the practicality of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology.

SWITCH, an impact investment platform developing the first fleet of purely zero-carbon maritime vessels to expedite the decarbonization and energy transition of the US maritime sector, is funding the project with private funds.

“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.”

Pace Ralli, Co-Founder and CEO of SWITCH.

SWITCH’s mission-driven platform seeks to collaborate with existing ferry owners and operators across the country to facilitate the adoption of zero-carbon vessels to replace aging diesel-powered vessels, leveraging significant experience gained from the technologies used in the construction of this first ferry.

AAM is a renowned manufacturer of hybrid-electric boats in the United States and was chosen to execute this project because of their experience producing innovative, high-quality vessels. AAM’s new state-of-the-art shipyard has an expanded capacity and production capabilities for additional, larger and more complicated boats. The building and completion of Sea Change highlights AAM’s position as a leading technology pioneer in the North American marketplace, as well as a leading producer of boats with specific propulsion and design characteristics to create the finest performing vessel in its assigned class.

“Hydrogen-fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies. 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 to completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”

Ron Wille, AAM President & COO.

The vessel is outfitted with a hydrogen fuel cell power package offered by Zero Emissions Industries (previously Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), which consists of 360 kW of Cummins fuel cells and 246 kg Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks. This system includes a 100 kWh lithium-ion battery from XALT and a 2x 300 kW electric propulsion system from BAE Systems. The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain system gives the same operational flexibility as diesel with zero emissions and minimal maintenance. Hornblower Group is in charge of construction supervision and management, and Incat Crowther designed the vessel.

This project has received significant municipal support, including a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), as part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative in California that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy, and protect the environment. Furthermore, the project got the first loan guarantee under the BAAQMD’s Climate Tech Finance program, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by advancing new climate technology. The Climate Tech Finance team led a technology qualification and greenhouse gas analysis in collaboration with the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank and the Northern California Financial Development Corporation (NorCal FDC), which qualified SWITCH for a loan guarantee. This loan guarantee enabled SWITCH in getting a $5 million construction and term loan with KeyBank, which enables SWITCH to bring this significant project to completion.

Anela Dokso

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