Technology group Wärtsilä has signed a partnership agreement to provide its fleet electrification and systems integrator services for a project to build what is reportedly the first zero-emission high-speed ferries in the USA.
The fully electric vessels will be built for San Francisco’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the operator of the San Francisco Bay Ferry system. The project, and several others Wärtsilä will work on under this partnership, are a part of the agency’s Rapid Electric Emission-Free (REEF) Ferry Program, a phased decarbonization of the high-speed, high-capacity ferry service in the San Francisco Bay. Wärtsilä will work within the WETA project team to finalize vessel and charging system concepts.
After completing the conceptual phase, WETA will move on to the initial construction phase of a multi-vessel program. This will involve building three smaller ferries with a capacity of approximately 150 passengers each and two larger ferries capable of carrying at least 300 passengers. Additionally, the scope of this phase will encompass the inclusion of battery charging floats. The construction of the first electric-powered vessel is slated to commence before the end of 2023, with commercial operations expected to launch in 2025.
“We’re proud to operate the cleanest high-speed ferry fleet in the nation, but a zero-emission future for our system is within reach,” commented Seamus Murphy, executive director of WETA. “Wärtsilä’s expertise and experience will be incredibly valuable given the complexity our ferry decarbonization program entails.”
“This is a major project within the maritime sector’s journey toward decarbonization, and we are proud to be a part of it,” said Hanno Schoonman, director of sales for the North, Central and South America region of Wärtsilä Marine Power. “Wärtsilä joins an industry-leading team tasked to develop new-build battery-electric vessels that combine innovative technology and sustainable practices. Wärtsilä is well qualified to provide this project support, and this agreement is a clear endorsement of our strong track record in systems integration and emission-free propulsion.”
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