Switch Maritime, a USA-based company developing electrified, zero-emission ferries powered by battery and hydrogen fuel cells, has raised US$10m in a Series A round led by Nexus Development Capital to grow its hydrogen and electric ferry fleet in the USA.
Switch’s recent fundraising comes on the back of the completion of its flagship zero-emission vessel, Sea Change, which will operate as part of the public Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s (WETA) San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet.
The 75-passenger ferry uses hydrogen fuel cells to produce electricity to power electric motors for distances up to 300 nautical miles, and speeds up to 15kts, with the added benefits of no exhaust smoke and very little vibration and noise. While the only emission is pure water vapor, this technology enables new ferries to have the same performance capabilities as diesel-powered vessels, and without the need for installing large-scale battery charging infrastructure on the shore.
“Nexus Development Capital is committed to helping companies bridge the gap between project conception and implementation by working together to take nascent technologies to market,” said Josh Kaufman, CEO of Nexus Development Capital. “Switch is filling a huge market gap in decarbonizing the maritime industry, and we’re excited to work together to bring carbon-free sea transport to the USA.”
Switch’s model is intended to address the complex, resource-intensive process of sustainable technology integration, vessel construction and regulatory approvals for zero-emission vessels and offers them a painless path to a carbon-neutral, compliant fleet. Specifically, Switch provides operators with three key avenues of support: vessel design, financing and construction; short- and long-term vessel lease options to alleviate large upfront capital expenditures; and pre-packaged carbon-neutral fueling or charging infrastructure solutions.
These baseline services can be complemented by grant application writing and tax incentive administration, preventative and unplanned maintenance of new power systems on board, management of all necessary permitting and crew training as well as next-generation carbon management and reporting.
“Our objective is to take the stress out of the energy transition for ferry operators,” said Pace Ralli, CEO of Switch Maritime. “Everyone is under a lot of pressure to navigate the rapidly evolving technology and regulatory landscape, and without simple pre-packaged solutions that can be difficult. At Switch, we’re excited to help make that transition easier, achieving important emissions reductions along the way.”
Having received regulatory approval in 2022 from the US Coast Guard (USCG) for hydrogen powertrain and storage systems, Sea Change is the culmination of years of cooperation with the USCG focused on safely integrating hydrogen and electric powertrain systems on passenger vessels, and it paves the path for Switch’s fleet expansion plans. Establishing a regulatory framework for this technology unlocks the company’s ability to progress to larger ferry designs capable of operating at higher speeds on longer routes.
Switch is actively working on additional expansion designs for 150-, 300- and 450-passenger zero-emission ferries, leveraging the lessons learned from its flagship vessel, and is ready to grow its fleet in key ferry markets across the USA.
Read more of the latest ferries and cruises updates from the electric and hybrid marine technology, here.