Wärtsilä said it has agreed to work on a pioneering project to build the first zero-emission high-speed ferries in the U.S. Wärtsilä will help develop the ferries with the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry system.
Part of the Rapid Electric Emission-Free (REEF) Ferry Program initiated by WETA, the collaboration with Wärtsilä is poised to play a pivotal role in the phased decarbonization of high-speed, high-capacity ferry services in San Francisco Bay, Wärtsilä said.
Wärtsilä will collaborate with the WETA project team to finalize vessel and charging system concepts.
Seamus Murphy, WETA's executive director, said WETA operates the nation's cleanest high-speed ferry fleet and emphasized the attainability of a zero-emission future for their system. He highlighted the value of Wärtsilä's expertise in addressing the complexities of their ferry decarbonization program.
Following the conceptual phase, WETA will progress to the initial construction phase made up of three smaller ferries accommodating around 150 passengers each and two larger ferries with a capacity of at least 300 passengers. The construction phase will also include the incorporation of battery charging floats. Construction of the first electric-powered vessel was scheduled to begin by the end of 2023, with commercial operations set to launch in 2025.