Qld company builds hydrogen-powered ferry

A Brisbane ship builder is developing a zero-emission hydrogen-powered ferry.

Queensland-based ship-building specialist WildCat Marine has started construction of a new zero-emission passenger ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The radical new watercraft is part of a range of zero-emission passenger ferries intended for industrial and commercial purposes being promoted by H2X Marine, the boat-building arm of new Australian hydrogen fuel cell vehicle manufacturer H2X Australia. 

A statement from H2X Marine said the company had partnered with the ship-building specialist WildCat Marine to develop the new range of ferries, adding WildCat Marine had more than 30 years’ experience constructing commercial vessels, including passenger ferries.

The statement said H2X Marine aimed to manufacture up to 30 ferries at the company’s Brisbane factory. The vessels will feature an aluminium hull with 50-passenger capacity and be fitted with two 120kW electric power trains driven by green hydrogen.

“We have commenced construction and we will employ up to 40 boat builders and hydrogen drivetrain specialists when we reach production capacity,” H2X Marine CEO Sam Blackadder said. 

“We will also be building a range of larger vessels right down to smaller recreational craft (and) providing retrofit facilities for existing marine craft.” 

Mr Blackadder said the first vessel, dubbed Maroochy, would be launched in the first quarter of 2021 with the company leaning heavily on the Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) technology developed by its parent company H2X Australia.

“We are making a significant capital investment in this new industry because we firmly believe that the use of green hydrogen is the fuel to drive Australia’s industry as we phase out fossil fuels,” H2X Marine Chairman Craig Elvin said.
“We should be demonstrating the ferry by Q1 of next year. In terms of business, we’re looking to get letters of intent from potential customers and partner with early investors to expand H2X Marine.”

The statement went on to say that H2X Marine will focus on developing passenger ferries which global research shows is currently worth more than $3.44 billion and growing at more than 3.4% a year.

H2X Australia went public earlier this year with plans to manufacture a range of hydrogen-powered vehicles in New South Wales’ Illawarra region. 

The company is aiming to produce 20,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2025 from a plant at Port Kembla, south of Sydney. Among the products being championed is an SUV dubbed Snowy, which the company said would be introduced in 2022.

H2X describes itself as an automotive and powertrain company that is majority Australian-owned and based in Australia.

It aims to establish a sustainable clean energy vehicle and heavy equipment powertrain supply company that is competitive on an international level and to support the growth of the hydrogen economy in Australia.