The first zero emissions fuel cell ferry is being trialled 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. 

Beginning late spring this year, the ferry will be taking passengers along the waterfront. A Tougboat brought the ferry from Washington to San Fransisco last Sunday.  

The catamaran was developed with $3m in state funding by Switch Maritime and is able to hold 75-passengers. The company creates zero-emissions maritime vessels, including the Sea Change, where hydrogen fuel cells are used to spin the ship’s propellors. 

The Sea Change holds 10 hydrogen storage tanks that store 246kgs of compressed hydrogen gas at a pressure of 250 bar, which allows the ferry to operate for around 150 nautical miles at a cruising speed of around 12 knots. The ferry can operate for around 16 hours before needing to be refueled. 

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transporation Authority wishes to completely remove petrol-powered ferries from its waters by 2035. The agency aims to roll our battery-electric ferries after it has been given a $14.9m grant from the California state Transportation Agency back in 2022. 

The ferry does not produce any emissions however operators are unable to secure green hydrogen to power the Sea Change.  

As the ferry and shipping industry accounts for around 3% of greenhouse gases it is essential that green hydrogen is sources as it could be a vital to decarbonise the sector.