Crowley Invests in H2 Propulsion Startup ZEI

ZEI is best known for the H2-powered ferry Sea Change, which delivered last year (ZEI / Switch Maritime)

Published Sep 11, 2022 7:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Crowley and Chevron have both taken Series A investment stakes in Zero Emission Industries, a hydrogen-propulsion startup formerly known as Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine.

ZEI is best known for the development, construction and sale of the H2-powered ferry Sea Change, which was acquired by operator Switch Maritime in 2019. The vessel was launched at All American Marine in Bellingham in August 2021, and it completed its first hydrogen fueling - the first ever for an American vessel - in November 2021. It is in trials, and is expected to carry 75 passengers at speeds of up to 20 knots when ready to enter service.

"Our intelligent, connected, reliable power systems are the only ones on the market built from the ground-up specifically to meet the rigorous demands of the marine community," said ZEI Executive VP John Motlow in a statement. "Designed to be as easy to install and operate as a marine diesel engine, we are working to build solutions that truly enable the maritime industry to decarbonize without negatively impacting their operations."

ZEI closed its Series A funding round on September 8, with participation led by Chevron's New Energies division and additional participation from Crowley. The undisclosed funding amount will help ZEI roll out its new integrated H2 power system and scale up to meet industry demand. The company noted that with backing from Chevron and Crowley, its partners span the full value chain from fuel production to propulsion tech to vessel operations. 

“Investing in and developing innovative, clean energy solutions such as hydrogen is critical to reaching the maritime industry’s decarbonization goals. Crowley can only reach net-zero emissions with collaboration that produces new ideas by partners and stakeholders,” said Tom Crowley, the company’s chairman and CEO. “Working with Chevron and ZEI is an opportunity to help lead the shipping and logistics industry – and the communities we serve – to reach a more sustainable future.”

Crowley has a strong history in investing in zero-emissions solutions. It is building the first purpose-built electric tug in the United States, the e-Wolf, and it has announced an ambitious commitment to reducing its carbon footprint - including the tracking, reduction and offsetting of related-party (Scope 2 and 3) emissions.