ARKANSAS, Nov 20 (Future Headlines)- SWITCH Maritime LLC, a US-based company focused on developing electrified, zero-emission ferries powered by both battery and hydrogen fuel cells, has successfully raised $10 million in a Series A funding round. Led by Nexus Development Capital, the funding is intended to support the expansion of SWITCH Maritime’s fleet. The company, founded in 2018, aims to facilitate the transition of private and public municipal ferry operators to carbon-neutral alternatives, providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution for replacing aging diesel-powered fleets.
With approximately 1,000 vessels in the US ferry fleet, transporting over 100 million passengers and 25 million vehicles annually, ferries play a crucial role in urban and rural transportation. However, traditional diesel-powered ferries contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter. Recognizing the environmental impact, SWITCH Maritime is dedicated to enabling ferry operators to adopt low- or zero-emission vessels, reducing both operational costs and carbon footprints.
Series A Funding Details: Amount: $10 million; Lead Investor: Nexus Development Capital. SWITCH Maritime recently completed its flagship zero-emission vessel, named Sea Change. Sea Change will be integrated into the public Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s (WETA) SF Bay Ferry fleet.
Technical Specifications of Sea Change:
Capacity: 75 passengers; Power Source: Hydrogen fuel cells generating electricity for electric motors; Range: Up to 300 nautical miles; Speed: Up to 15 knots; Emissions: Only emits pure water vapor, eliminating exhaust smoke, and minimizing vibration and noise. Traditional diesel-burning ferries contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, prompting the need for eco-friendly alternatives.
As states like California implement stringent emissions regulations for commercial harbor craft, ferry operators face the challenge of modernizing and decarbonizing aging fleets. SWITCH’s model addresses the complexities of technology integration, vessel construction, and regulatory approvals for zero-emission vessels. SWITCH Maritime provides comprehensive support to ferry operators, addressing key challenges in the transition to zero-emission vessels. The company offers the following avenues of support:
Vessel Design, Financing, and Construction:
Assists operators in designing, financing, and constructing zero-emission vessels.
Vessel Lease Options:
Provides short- and long-term lease options to alleviate large upfront capital expenditures for operators.
Fueling or Charging Infrastructure Solutions:
Offers pre-packaged carbon-neutral fueling or charging infrastructure solutions to facilitate a seamless transition.
Additional Support Services:
Complementary services include grant application writing, tax incentive administration, maintenance of new power systems, permitting management, crew training, and carbon management and reporting.
SWITCH received regulatory approval in 2022 from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for hydrogen powertrain and storage systems. The approval was a result of collaborative efforts with the USCG to safely integrate hydrogen and electric powertrain systems on passenger vessels. Sea Change serves as a regulatory milestone, unlocking possibilities for larger ferry designs capable of operating at higher speeds on longer routes.
SWITCH is actively working on additional designs for zero-emission ferries, including 150-, 300-, and 450-passenger variants. Leveraging insights from the Sea Change project, SWITCH aims to expand its fleet in key ferry markets across the US. The Sea Change project received a $3-million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as part of the California Climate Investments initiative. Additionally, the project obtained the first loan guarantee under the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s (BAAQMD) Climate Tech Finance program.
SWITCH secured a $5-million construction and term loan with KeyBank, supported by a loan guarantee from BAAQMD. The financing enables SWITCH to advance the Sea Change project to completion.
SWITCH Maritime’s successful Series A funding round underscores the growing demand for sustainable solutions in ferry transportation. The completion of the Sea Change vessel, combined with regulatory approvals and ongoing fleet expansion plans, positions SWITCH as a key player in advancing zero-emission ferry technology. By providing comprehensive support to operators, SWITCH aims to accelerate the transition to carbon-neutral ferry fleets, contributing to environmental conservation and regulatory compliance in the maritime industry. The infusion of $10 million in funding is expected to propel SWITCH Maritime’s mission to make zero-emission ferries a mainstream and viable choice for ferry operators across the United States.
Reporting by Emad Martin