The road, indeed the route, to sustainability at sea is long. Research, however, does not stop as evidenced by the many projects that are emerging. What about the big players? Volvo Penta is currently developing what is by far the most complex propulsion system the manufacturer has ever made: we are talking about four IPSs, including two diesel and two fully electric, eight generator sets and battery packs.
Volvo Penta Hybrid
Installing these state-of-the-art systems are two catamarans measuring 34.4 meters long and 11 meters wide. Their future? These two hybrid boats will be operated by operator MHO-Co and will serve as transportation to the Hornsea Project 2 offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
“The big difficulty,” Andrea Piccione, head of sales for Volvo Penta, explained to us. is to be able to develop and control such complex and integrated systems. What we have achieved with the two boats is a borderline case, the most complex case ever. From here on, we will be ready to decline it as needed.”
This hybrid system for the two ships is the result of a collaboration between Volvo Penta and Danfoss Editron. The companies developed a fully integrated solution consisting of a Danfoss Editron electric drive supported by Volvo Penta variable speed gensets driving two of the first IPS (Electric Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System) units and two D13 Volvo Penta IPS units. The new IPS units had already reached 1,000 hours of operation before they even reached the customer.
In Dynamic Positioning System mode (DPS-mode) the fuel consumption of these vessels is less than 20 liters/hour and can be less than 17 liters/hour, which is remarkable for vessels of this size.
With batteries they will be able to operate in zero-emission electric mode for up to eight hours or in combination with diesel propulsion, reach a maximum speed of about 24 knots. The use of multiple modular generators allows power generation to be tailored to the operating profile and to improve flexibility.
Volvo Penta hybrids: what about recreation?
This technology, now under development, will also come to recreation. Volvo Penta in the coming years will launch an even larger IPS system in which the hybrid will be integral. The target will shift to sizes larger (even by a lot) than 100 feet with an integrated hybrid system.
“Now our approach in recreation,” Andrea Piccione continued. is to have the many yards we work with build Hybrid Ready models, that is, ready for when we are ready to offer this technology. In fact, the engine room of the new models is already designed for when the hybrid installation is ready. Our strength will be in integration as well as everything a hybrid powertrain can offer.”