Hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more commonplace on our roads and now the world's first hydrogen powered hybrid ferry is set to take to the water off New York. Following on from the 2008 launch of the San Francisco Hornblower Hybrid that runs on a combination of solar, wind and diesel power, the new 1,400-hp New York Hornblower Hybrid adds another energy source to the mix with hydrogen fuel cells to complement its clean Tier 2 diesel engines, solar panels and wind turbines.

Due to be completed in April 2011, the New York Hornblower Hybrid will generate power from a proton exchange membrane fuel cell that turns hydrogen into electricity. The solar panels and wind turbines will help power the vessel, while the diesel engines will kick in to cover additional energy needs.

When completed, the 600-passenger New York Hornblower Hybrid will feature an outdoor sundeck and two interior decks, including one with glass walls. Its eco-friendly construction materials include recycled glass countertops, LEED-certified carpet and aluminum wall coverings. Additionally, LED video screens and lighting will help minimize energy use, while long-life, low VOC (volatile organic content) paints will cover the vessel's exterior.

Both the San Francisco Hornblower Hybrid, which was the first hybrid ferry in the United States, and the New York Hornblower Hybrid were created by San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises & Events, which also operates Statue Cruises.

"By combining hydrogen, solar and wind power, Hornblower will minimize its environmental impact as we transport guests to popular national landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Our goal is to reduce emissions to the greatest extent possible, with a goal in the future to eliminate them entirely during a cruising day," says Terry MacRae, CEO of Statue Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events.

MacRae also says the technology used in the HornBlower Hybrid is scalable to other hybrid ferries, hybrid yachts and even hybrid tug boats.

"This is a genuinely breakthrough project, not only for us but for the U.S. marine industry. This boat will produce minimal carbon emissions and sip, rather than guzzle, diesel fuel. Along the way it will help make New York harbor a cleaner, safer and more pleasant place," said Gavin Higgins, Vice President for Business Development at Derecktor Shipyards, which is constructing the ferry in Bridgeport, Connecticut.