The owner of a pioneering ferry powered by hydrogen and batteries has raised cash to build more of the zero-emission vessels.

US-based Switch Maritime said it raised $10m in a Series A financing round, with low-carbon infrastructure investor Nexus Development Capital leading the investors.

“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,” Nexus chief executive Josh Kaufman said.

“Switch is filling a huge market gap in decarbonising the maritime industry, and we’re excited to work together to bring carbon-free sea transport to the US.”

Switch’s first vessel, the 75-passenger ferry Sea Change (built 2021) is poised to start operations for San Francisco Bay Ferry, a passenger vessel fleet operated by California’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority.

The hybrid vessel uses hydrogen fuel cells to produce electricity for its electric motors, in addition to battery packs.

Switch said the Sea Change can travel 300 nautical miles (556 km) at up to 15 knots (28 km/h), with the same performance capabilities as similar vessels with diesel engines.

The shipowner said it is working on expansion designs for 150, 300 and 450-passenger zero-emission ferries.

Switch is eyeing expansion as California is implementing tough emissions rules for ferries and other harbour craft.

It is offering to support ferry operators with vessel design, financing and construction services, leasing options and carbon-neutral fuel and charging infrastructure solutions.

Chief executive Pace Ralli said the goal is to “take the stress out of energy transition” for operators.

“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,” he said.

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“At Switch, we’re excited to help make that transition easier, achieving important emissions reductions along the way.”

The Sea Change was the brainchild of Zero Emission Industries, founded in 2017 as Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine and developed with a $3m grant from the California Air Resources Board.

The company sold the newbuilding in 2019 to Switch, which was founded by Ralli and fellow Clean Marine Energy principal Volckert van Reesema, whose firm was at the forefront of LNG fuelling in the US.

Construction began at Bay Ship & Yacht in California and finished at Washington state shipyard All American Marine in 2021. The vessel received regulatory approval last year from the US Coast Guard.