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December 2, 2021
SWITCH Maritime announced the world's first hydrogen fueling of a commercial marine vessel was successfully completed on Nov. 18 at All American Marine shipyard in Bellingham, and the vessel is now beginning its final sea trials before delivery. The event is a step toward decarbonization of the worldwide shipping industry and showcases the United States' energy transition away from fossil fuels. The new 75-passenger ferry, called the Sea Change, received hydrogen into its 242 kg tanks on the upper deck. It uses that hydrogen in fuel cells producing electricity to power electric motors for distances up to 300 nautical miles, and speeds up to 20 knots – similar capabilities as diesel-powered vessels – with the added benefits of zero exhaust smoke or other emissions and very little vibration and noise. The fueling follows the regulatory approval in October by the United States Coast Guard of the hydrogen powertrain and storage systems onboard the Sea Change, representing the culmination of years of cooperation with the USCG focused on safely integrating hydrogen power and storage systems on passenger vessels.
Zero Emission Industries formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine, is responsible for the design and development of the first-of-its-kind maritime hydrogen and fuel cell system as well as the vessel's unique fueling system that allows it to be fueled directly from a hydrogen truck, and was responsible for the successful regulatory approvals of all hydrogen-related aspects onboard.
The Sea Change project is managed and financed by SWITCH Maritime, an impact investment firm building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels for adoption by existing ship owners and operators. It is the first of the larger zero-carbon ferry fleet that SWITCH plans to construct in 2022, in partnership with municipalities and shipowners aiming to transition to carbon-free vessels, leveraging government grant funds related to transportation decarbonization activities targeted by the landmark US infrastructure bill.