Hurtigruten Svalbard’s new hybrid vessel to be powered by Volvo Penta

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Volvo Penta has announced an advanced, hybrid solution for Hurtigruten Svalbard’s new sightseeing vessel, and will begin pilot testing in Svalbard in May 2022. The remote archipelago in Norway is a popular tourist draw due to its varied wildlife, meaning there is great potential for near-silent operation.

Volvo Penta and Hurtigruten Svalbard (Svalbard’s oldest tourist operator) will collaborate on the pilot project to test a state-of-the-art hybrid Marell M15 vessel, Kvitbjørn (polar bear in English), which could change how tourists experience the area’s unique array of walrus, puffins, seals and whales.

Powered by a Volvo Penta twin D4-320 DPI Aquamatic hybrid solution, the boat has a top speed of 32kts and a cruising speed of 25kts. This vessel, designed and built by Marell Boats Sweden, will be tailored to the demanding Arctic environment – running in sub-zero temperatures with an extensive range of 500 nautical miles.

This will be Hurtigruten Svalbard’s first hybrid day tour vessel powered by Volvo Penta. The two companies are also trialling a new business model, based on a ‘power-by-the-hour’ payment program. This e-mobility-as-a-service model is still at the concept stage, but could see future development down the line. Hurtigruten Svalbard will trial paying by the kWh for operation, with the boat set to run for more than 1,000 hours during the tourist season (May 1-October 31).

The hybrid day-cruiser with Volvo Penta power system enables fully electric operation in the environmentally sensitive waters of Svalbard.

“We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Penta as they take sustainable marine engineering to a new level,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam. “And what a fitting place to test this hybrid vessel – the beautiful but fragile Svalbard, which is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

All the interfaces between the hybrid drive and supporting systems were developed through close collaboration between Marell Boats and Volvo Penta. These include the charging, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning systems. The complete power drivetrain solution for the vessel is based on the Volvo Penta D4/D6 Aquamatic DPI package.

“This plug-in hybrid electric approach takes us further down the path in Volvo Penta’s sustainability vision,” said Peter Granqvist, chief technology officer, Volvo Penta. “It advances our efforts toward electrifying this part of our Volvo Penta range and we can run this program inside a real-world customer project for better understanding and learning as we push the technology into the future.”

The Volvo Penta DPI package features a hydraulic clutch for silent, smooth shifting at low engine speeds, as well as added maneuverability. The hybrid solution delivers the range and speed of the diesel engine, as well as silent operation from the electrical motor, all packed efficiently inside the Marell M15.

“We designed the complete system to work seamlessly as a single package,” added Granqvist. “We favor this approach and it’s been a differentiator for us for some time. Through it we can deliver better driveline performance, maneuverability and acceleration compared to traditional installations. The parallel hybrid system is very responsive and provides seamless power transition between the electric and diesel propulsion.”

The boat is currently at Volvo Penta’s marine test facility in Krossholmen, Gothenburg, Sweden. In the coming weeks, it will move to Marell Boats in Östhammar – where it will go through further checks ahead of delivery in May 2022. When Hurtigruten Svalbard receives the boat, the company will then put it through its own detailed checks. Through this close collaboration between owners, users and other stakeholders, Volvo Penta is building its understanding of customer behavior and hybrid usage patterns.

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Matt joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over 15 years and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire and Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International. He is also the chairman of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation & Excellence, and the Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International Awards.

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