A new zero-emission ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology has arrived in San Francisco, where it will be tested and prepared to carry passengers later this year.
The 70-foot catamaran would be the first commercial marine vessel in the United States powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells, officials said. The boat is a key part of an ambitious plan by the San Francisco Bay Ferry to replace a significant number of its pollutant-spewing diesel ships with zero-emission personal watercraft by 2035.
“We know the future is zero emissions with shipping,” San Francisco Bay Ferry spokesman Thomas Hall said in an interview Monday. “We really push the boundaries.”
Known as the Sea Change, the aluminum catamaran can carry up to 75 passengers at a top speed of 15 knots, according to the California Air Resources Council, which provided a $3 million grant to help fund the project. The vessel will have sufficient hydrogen storage capacity for two days of normal operation.
Fuel cells work like batteries and use chemical energy or hydrogen to generate electricity quietly with minimal moving parts, according to the United States. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Hydrogen fuel cells emit only water, fulfilling a critical need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment.
Crews will begin training on the Sea Change and fitting it out for passengers in the coming weeks, Hall said. After the ship is tested and inspected by the US Coast Guard, it will begin taking passengers later this year.
The San Francisco Bay Ferry operates 16 ships to cities like Oakland, Richmond, and Vallejo.
The Angel Island-Tiburon ferry, which carries tens of thousands of visitors from Tiburon to the island national park each year, recently announced that it will convert to an electric-powered vessel next year.
“We are very pleased that the Angel Island is the first of California’s short-term ferries to be 100% zero emissions,” said Captain Maggie McDonogh, owner and operator of the Angel Island-Tiburon ferry.